SEOUL — At least 120 people were killed and another 100 injured after they were crushed in a large Halloween crowd in Seoul on Saturday night, the city’s fire department said. The crowd surge happened during one of the most raucous celebrations of the year in the South Korean capital.
Of those who were confirmed dead, 46 were in the hospital, the fire department said, with the rest taken to a nearby gymnasium.
President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered his government to dispatch urgent help and medical assistance to the scene — in the popular Itaewon nightlife district at the city center — after he was informed of “multiple casualties,” his office said in a statement.
Seoul’s mayor, Oh Se-hoon, who was visiting the Netherlands, was returning to South Korea, his office said.
Photos published by domestic media showed citizens, police officers and emergency medical workers performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on people sprawled on the pavement. Live footage on MBC-TV, a local broadcaster, showed firefighters carrying what looked like bodies covered with white sheets on stretchers to ambulances.
Local media said the narrow alleys of Itaewon were jam-packed with as many as 100,000 people for the Halloween festivities on Saturday evening. Earlier in the day, large protests had blocked city traffic in the area.
A witness said the stampede happened when a crowd surged down a narrow alleyway.
“People kept pushing down and more people were crushed down,” the witness wrote on Twitter. “People crushed under the crowd were crying and I thought I would be crushed to death too, breathing through a hole and crying for help.”