SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — At least 146 people were killed and dozens injured after they were run over by a large crowd pushing through a narrow street during Halloween celebrations in the capital Seoul, South Korean authorities said.
Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan Fire Department, said the death toll could rise as emergency workers continued to transport the injured to hospitals in Seoul after the stampede in the Itaewon entertainment district on Saturday night.
Choi said many of the dead have been sent to hospitals, while some bodies are still on the streets.
Officials say people are believed to have been crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul.
Officials from the National Fire Agency and the Department of Home Affairs and Safety said earlier that about 100 were injured and about 50 were being treated for cardiac arrest as of early Sunday, although the number of injured continues to rise.
More than 400 emergency workers and 140 vehicles from across the country, including all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed on the streets to treat the injured.
The National Fire Agency separately said in a statement that officials were still trying to determine the exact number of emergency patients.
Television footage and photos from the scene showed ambulances lining the streets amid a heavy police presence and emergency workers carrying the injured on stretchers. Emergency personnel and pedestrians were also seen performing CPR on people lying in the streets.
In one section, paramedics were seen checking the condition of a dozen or more people who lay motionless under blue blankets.
Police, who were restricting traffic in nearby areas to speed up transport of the injured to hospitals across the city, also confirmed that dozens of people received CPR on the streets of Itaewon. The Seoul Metropolitan Government issued emergency text messages urging people in the area to return home quickly.
A local police official said he was also informed that there was a stampede on the streets of Itaewon, where a crowd of people had gathered for Halloween festivities. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the details of the incident were still under investigation.
Some local media earlier said the crash occurred after a large number of people rushed to the Itaewon bar after hearing an unidentified celebrity had visited there.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a statement calling on officials to provide prompt treatment to the injured and review safety at holiday venues. He also instructed the Ministry of Health to quickly deploy disaster medical teams and provide beds in a nearby hospital to treat the injured.
Local media reported that around 100,000 people flocked to the streets of Itaewon for Halloween celebrations, the biggest since the start of the pandemic since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.