South Korea is in mourning. While tens of thousands of people celebrated Halloween in a joyful and happy atmosphere in the center of Seoul, on the night of Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30, a stampede due to a huge uncontrolled crowd movement caused a deadly drama. At least 150 people died and some 150 others were injured in this tragic stampede.
“I was not there, but when I saw the terrible images on Sunday morning, I burst into tears”, testifies this Sunday from Seoul Nuri, a young Korean working in commerce. “Just before, we saw thousands of young people laughing and singing, because because of the pandemic, there had been no public celebration for two years. I think everyone needed to break free from these constraints but the intensity was too high, things got out of hand…” There were reportedly nearly 100,000 people gathered in this area of Seoul.
The party turned into a nightmare
The images broadcast by the television channels are terrible. Bodies lined up on the sidewalk under blankets or other makeshift shrouds, cardiac massages performed in the street by passers-by at the request of overwhelmed firefighters, people in disguise or in evening dress running in panic: the night turned into a nightmare in the Itaewon district, located near a former American military base and known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, its bars and all kinds of party places in a maze of narrow streets.
“People were on top of each other like in a grave. Some were losing consciousness gradually, others were obviously dead., an unidentified witness told Yonhap News Agency. In an interview with local TV station YTN, Lee Beom-suk, a doctor who administered first aid to the victims, described scenes of chaos and horror. “When I first attempted CPR, there were two victims lying on the sidewalk. But soon after the number exploded”he said.
The whole country is in mourning
“It’s a shock for the whole citytestifies this Sunday morning a Western priest who has been living in Seoul for years, and our church is right next door…I have a baptism this afternoon. Our prayer will of course be linked to these events. » Sunday at dawn, in the neighborhood, dazed passers-by sat on the sidewalk, consulting their phones in the light of the flashing lights. Others comforted themselves by hugging each other, while music was still leaking from some bars, according to an Agence France-Presse photographer.
Many international leaders have expressed their dismay. “We mourn with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to all those who have been injured”US President Joe Biden said in a statement, adding that the United States “stand by the Republic of Korea during this tragic time”. His French counterpart Emmanuel Macron expressed “a heartfelt thought for the people of Seoul and for all the Korean people”. “France is by your side”, he added. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell said to himself “deeply saddened by the terrible events”.