Seoul , October 30 (ANI) . South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday announced a period of national mourning and ordered the lowering of flags over a deadly Seoul stampede during Halloween celebrations that killed at least 151 people, including 19 foreigners, media reports said.
At least 151 people were killed and 82 others were injured in a deadly stampede during Halloween celebrations in Seoul’s Itaewon district on Saturday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported citing authorities. A day after the stampede, Yoon in a live address to the nation from the presidential office, said, “It’s truly horrific.” He said that this tragedy should never have happened.
“As president, who is responsible for the people’s lives and safety, my heart is heavy and I struggle to cope with my grief,” he said adding, “the government will designate the period from today until the accident is brought under control as a period of national mourning and will place top priority in administrative affairs in recovery and follow-up measures,” reported South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
He also ordered all government offices to lower their flags to half-mast, according to his office.
Expressing condolences over the deaths, Yoon wished the injured a speedy recovery. During his address, Yoon said the government will ensure support for the funeral preparations of th people who lost their lives in the deadly incident.
Speaking further, he said that the government is committed to fully mobilized emergency medical services to treat patients, including by assigning public servants individually to those requiring assistance, the South Korean agency reported.
“The most important thing is to determine the cause of the accident and prevent similar accidents,” he said. “We will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and make fundamental improvements so that similar accidents do not happen again in the future.”
The country’s interior ministry and other relevant ministries will do an emergency review of all Halloween celebrations and other local festivals in a bid to ensure safety, he added.
Moreover, Yoon visited the site of the accident and later headed towards central Seoul to preside over a government response meeting.
During a briefing, Choi Seong-beom, the head of the fire department in Yongsan, said the nationalities of the foreigners who were killed in South Korea include those from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.
The agency also reported that the victims in their 20s accounted for the age group most affected by the horrific Seoul Halloween stampede. Moreover, the agency, citing the Seoul metropolitan government, said on Sunday it has received about 270 reports of missing persons related to the deadly stampede during Halloween parties in the Itaewon district.
The incident reportedly occurred when a large group of people rushed to an Itaewon bar after hearing an unidentified celebrity was visiting there, Al Jazeera reported citing the local media. Social media footage showed several people being assisted by rescue officials and private citizens at the scene, and many rescue officials performing CPR on people lying in poor condition on the streets.
The packed Halloween festivities in South Korea’s capital of Seoul took place after Covid restrictions were removed, the local officials said. The festivities marked the participation of more than a lakh visitors and the number of casualties is only expected to rise.
Emergency officials received at least 81 calls from people with breathing difficulty, “South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
A large crowd pushed forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities, resulting in dozens needing first aid. South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered the dispatch of the emergency medical team to the area and said hospital beds should be prepared to minimize casualties, his office said.
Numerous people had trouble breathing when the chaotic stampede occurred as dozens were seen giving CPR to people lying lifeless on streets post-incident. South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol presided over an emergency response meeting Sunday over the deadly stampede, as per the officials.
“Shortly after the accident, Yoon came to the presidential office in Yongsan and presided over a response meeting related to the Seoul Itaewon Halloween accident,” the presidential office said.
“The top priority is transporting and rescuing the patients and providing prompt medical treatment for the affected people,” local media reported quoting Yoon as saying. Authorities are still looking into the exact cause of the accident as the investigation is underway.
Emergency forces were dispatched following the crowd surge which resulted in fatalities. Firefighters and police officers also reached the Itaewon neighbourhood in Seoul to bring the situation under control.