Picture: Kim Hong-ji/Reuters
SEOUL – At least 151 people died and more than 82 were injured in a crowd crush in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, central Seoul, according to fire authorities at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. The fire department began to receive reports of patients having difficulty breathing at 10:22 p.m. on Saturday.
Officials confirmed that 19 foreigners were among the dead as of the time reported and among the foreign nationals who died were people from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.
Of the people who died, more than 100 were transferred to the hospital. The remaining bodies were kept on site and later moved to a nearby multi-purpose indoor gymnasium. Identifying the deceased is expected to take some time, according to fire officials.
Most of the dead were in their 20s. Officials expect that the number of casualties will continue to rise throughout the day.
The death toll is currently made up of 97 women and 54 men.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol convened an emergency meeting in the early hours of Sunday, andlater visited the scene to receive briefings from emergency officials.
Addressing the nation, he called a national period of mourning “until the handling of the accident is concluded.”
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo later said the period of mourning would end at midnight of November 5.
“A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night on Halloween,” Yoon said. “I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly.”
He also said the disaster would be investigated, with measures put into place to ensure similar incidents never happen again.