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News Room : Crowd crush killed 151 at Halloween festivities


South Korea’s first big Halloween celebration since the end of Covid restrictions turned to tragedy on Saturday night, when at least 151 people, mostly teenagers and young adults, died as partygoers surged through a narrow alley in a popular nightlife district in Seoul, officials said.

Authorities are still investigating what caused the incident, but Choi Seong-bum, chief of the Yongsan-gu Fire Department, said it was a “presumed stampede” and that many people fell, injuring at least 82.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol convened an emergency meeting in the early hours of Sunday, and later addressed the nation to call a national period of mourning “until the handling of the accident is concluded.”

“A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night on Halloween,” Yoon said. “I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly.”

Revellers had poured into the Itaewon nightclub district on Saturday night to enjoy South Korea’s first Halloween celebration since crowd limits and face mask rules imposed by the Covid pandemic were lifted.

Witnesses said that even before the chaos broke out, partygoers were packed so tightly in the narrow streets that it was difficult to move around.