More than 150 die in Halloween stampede in Itaewon

At least 153 people have died in a crush as huge Halloween crowds surged into a narrow street in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, officials say.

At least another 82 were injured in the incident in the Itaewon nightlife area which was holding its first unmasked Halloween celebrations since Covid.

Reports describe a desperate scene of people caught up in the crush piling on top of each other.

Most of the dead were teenagers or in their 20s. Twenty were foreigners.

The cause of the disaster is still being established.

After holding an emergency meeting, South Korea’s President, Yoon Suk-yeol, ordered a task force to be set up to help treat the injured. He also launched an investigation into the cause of the crush.

Itaewon is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Seoul for a night out. Locals and foreigners flock there every weekend, but Halloween is one of the busiest nights of the year. 

An estimated 100,000 people came to celebrate there on Saturday to mark the first Halloween since the start of the pandemic where gathering sizes were not limited and people did not need to wear masks outside. 

The crush appears to have started in a narrow, sloped alleyway that was overcrowded with people. Pictures and videos on social media show the alley was so densely packed, people were unable to move. One video shows people struggling to breathe. In another, emergency responders try to pull out people from what appears to be a pile of bodies. Cries of distress can be heard.

Bodies were lined up along the street covered in blue blankets. Others were carried, lifeless, into ambulances. Members of the public desperately administered CPR to those who were lying unconscious, along with hundreds of emergency workers who were sent in from around the country to help.

Relatives and friends of missing people have been turning up at the scene this morning looking for clues to reveal whether their loved ones were there.

Sourece – BBC