SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean officials said around 50 people were in cardiac arrest and a number feared dead after being crushed by a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities in the capital Seoul.
Choi Cheon-sik, an official from the National Fire Agency, said around 100 people were reported as injured during the crowd surge Saturday night in the Itaewon leisure district and that around 50 were being treated for cardiac arrest as of early Sunday.
Choi said it was believed that people were crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul.
He said more than 400 emergency workers from around the nation, including practically all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed to the streets to treat the injured. Officials didn’t immediately release a death toll.
The crowd, estimated to be around 1 lakh, had gathered to celebrate Halloween on Saturday night in Itaewon, a central district of the megacity which has hundreds of shops and some particularly narrow streets, local news outlets said. Excitement was heightened as this is the first Halloween after two years of muted celebrations due to Covid restrictions.
It was just before midnight local time that dozens of people fell unconscious near a hotel, reported The Korea Herald. Fire authorities said they have received 81 reports regarding breathing difficulties as of 11.30 pm, said the report.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a statement calling for officials to ensure swift treatment for those injured and review the safety of the festivity sites. He also instructed the Health Ministry to swiftly deploy disaster medical assistance teams and secure beds in nearby hospital to treat the injured.