Horror scenes in Seoul where Halloween turned into a tragedy
FHidden tadpoles running in panic, heart massages performed on the sidewalk, bodies lying in the middle of the street under makeshift covers: Saturday, in Seoul’s cosmopolitan Itaewon district, Halloween night became a nightmare.
153 people were killed and 134 injured in the crowd movement that took place, for reasons that have yet to be determined, in this district of the center of the Korean capital, located near a former American military base and known for its bars and lively nightlife. .
Around 100,000 people according to local media estimates, many of them very young and dressed up or dressed in fancy dress, gathered there on Saturday night to celebrate Halloween for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My friend told me: something terrible is happening outside,” said Jeon Ga-eul, 30, who was drinking at a bar at the time of the tragedy. “I answered him: but what are you talking about? I went out to see, and I saw people doing cardio-respiratory massages”.
This district, immortalized by the Korean television series “Itaewon Class” in 2020, consists of a maze of steep alleyways on either side of a main avenue. The crowd was very dense, suggesting drama, he reported.
“Before the accident, a lot of people were pushing each other… I was also stuck in the crowd. At first I couldn’t even free myself. I felt like an accident was going to happen,” Jeon Ga-eul continued.
“A short person like me can’t breathe,” an eyewitness told Yonhap News, adding that he survived because he was on one side of the alley. “The people in the middle suffered the most,” he said.
Another witness on Twitter described the panic that began as people “kept pushing down” the steep, crowded alley.
“Other people then screamed and fell like dominoes,” wrote a Twitter user who goes by the handle “jkaesthet1c.” “I thought I was going to be crushed because people kept pushing without realizing that there were people falling at the beginning of the stampede,” he added.
Some witnesses said shops in the neighborhood barred people from entering to escape the deadly mob.
“Casualties appeared to be higher as people tried to take shelter in nearby shops, but were thrown back into the streets because business hours were over,” a survivor told Yonhap.
In the face of a large number of victims, the firefighters who arrived at the scene asked for the help of passers-by to perform cardiac massage on the injured on the sidewalk, among the debris. The bodies of the crushed or trampled dead are lined up on the ground, under blankets or other improvised coverings.
Hundreds of ambulances, many of them from outside Seoul, lined up overnight in front of Soonchunhyang University Hospital, which is located near the scene of the tragedy and where a large number of victims were taken.
The stampede took place not far from the Hamilton Hotel, near which people rushed down a narrow alley. With the scene of the accident cordoned off by the police and bathed in the red lights of hundreds of flashing lights, music continued to escape from several bars.
Passers-by sitting on the sidewalk, looking at their phones, were stunned. Others consoled themselves by hugging each other. Others, seemingly oblivious to the tragedy almost unfolding before their eyes, continued to celebrate.
“It’s very sad, something we really didn’t expect. I never thought this could happen in Korea, especially in Itaewon,” commented Juyoung Possamai, a 24-year-old Brazilian who works in the neighborhood as a bartender.
“I’ve been to many Halloween parties in Korea, they’re always crowded but nothing like this has happened. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
30/10/2022 11:02:03 – Seoul (AFP) – © 2022 AFP