Halloween celebrations around the world can get a little bit out of hand, and we’re sad to report that this seems to be the case in Seoul, where over 140 people have been killed in what witnesses called a Halloween crowd surge on Saturday night.
Over 140 dead after Halloween crowd surge in Seoul
149 people were killed, and 76 others were injured during a Halloween celebration that ended in disaster.
Officials are still investigating the incident but believe that some sort of physical contact involving multiple people may have led to the crowd surge.
The incident took place around 11 pm near an underpass where a large number of people had gathered to take part in a ‘light show’ event and watch a performance by an artist.
Police say they will be investigating whether security measures at this event could have contributed to the tragedy, including how many police officers were on duty and what instructions were given for safety precautions.
Crowd surges can happen when large crowds gather together in one place, often at concerts or sporting events.
When there is excitement in the air and too many people pushing against each other, it can cause a person to fall over and make way for another person to fall into them.
Those who fall can create a domino effect which then causes more people to fall over.
In this case it was reported that up to 20 people fell as soon as the crowd surged because they couldn’t get out of their way in time.
The Korean Red Cross Society told CNN that 159 were pronounced dead from injuries sustained from being trampled during the Halloween festivities; additionally, 68 were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Over 120 of those injured died before arriving at hospital due to suffocation according to officials. Emergency responders said that 66 were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries ranging from light scratches and bruises to broken bones.
29 died at the scene. Officials suspect someone tripped which caused panic in the crowed, creating a chain reaction leading to people falling over each other.
There are no reports yet if any of these deaths were related to preexisting medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes although they did note respiratory distress among those killed.
All victims so far identified have been male and between 16-30 years old indicating most of them would not have had preexisting medical conditions related to diabetes or heart disease – two common causes for death among young adults in Korea.
Two of the 15 initial survivors have now died from complications following surgery.
In terms of previous incidents, in 2005 thirteen people were killed and 40 others injured at a concert hall collapse.
On New Year’s Eve 2015 about 2800 people were injured and 18 killed when revelers went outside onto Seoul Station’s main concourse after mistaking the sound of fireworks for an emergency warning.
On Sunday morning President Moon Jae-in ordered a thorough investigation into all aspects of safety planning for the Halloween event.
He has also called for the National Safety Commission to work with relevant authorities and conduct an urgent inspection of all Halloween events in the country.
It is unclear at this stage what specific factors have contributed to the crowd surge, but experts warn that carelessness can lead to overcrowding and even disaster.
This year has seen a marked increase in the numbers of people attending Halloween events in Korea as they celebrated overseas terror attacks with costumes and decorations.
As a result, these fatalities are already seen as being connected to last year’s attacks on Paris.
One expert stated that I don’t know how much responsibility we can give (the event organizers), but I’m sure they were less prepared than usual.
The event organisers said that they had done a variety of safety checks but the situation became impossible to control after it started.
It’s worth noting that this is only the second-worst crowd surge in Korea, with the worst being in 1988 when 282 people were killed in a market fire.
Crowd surges are often linked to bad communication and organization. Most recently, a tragic incident in the United States happened in February where 17 students were killed when part of a high school building collapsed.
These tragedies show that while many take steps to prevent such accidents, accidents happen regardless and need to be accounted for.
South Koreans seemed horrified by the news of their own tragedy, with some blaming their police force for allowing the tragedy to happen.
Others suggested that more security measures should have been put in place given the recent terrorism attacks abroad – specifically those in France last November.
Experts seem to agree with these sentiments suggesting that more oversight should be put into the location and time for celebrations especially given crowded areas like markets and entertainment districts.
They suggest that there should be a limit to the number of people allowed in certain venues or an allotted amount of space for pedestrians.
Alternatively, the public should be warned in advance of large crowds gathering. Police could also enforce safety regulations such as prohibiting masks and making sure people are aware of their surroundings.
Most agreed that this tragedy is going to have a significant effect on Korea’s future celebration plans for Halloween and other holidays – with one expert saying that tragedies can happen anywhere.
149 people were killed and 76 more were injured in a tragedy on Saturday evening during a deadly stampede that took place during celebrations marking the end of Halloween in South Korea’s capital.
Those who had gone to the party came back with stories of horror, describing seeing bodies piled up and blood flowing through the streets.
While most people in attendance did not have any idea what was happening, those who were close to the front felt the crushing weight of over hundreds of people pushing against them and witnessed terrifying scenes of women desperately trying to free their children from suffocating under piles of bodies.
Security forces tried to keep order, but found themselves fighting a losing battle against the incoming waves.