Categories: World

Nation mourns 154 victims of Halloween stampede

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Two days after the Halloween disaster in Seoul, it is time for meditation and tributes this Monday throughout South Korea. Many South Koreans marched on Monday in front of the memorials erected in honor of the victims of the stampede, whose death toll stands at 154. In the morning, President Yoon Suk-yeol and his wife Kim Keon-hee each laid a white flower in front of a huge black altar erected in central Seoul in honor of the victims of the disaster on Saturday evening. The public was then allowed to march in front of the monument to pay their respects, often in tears.

“I am overwhelmed,” said Hwang Gyu-hyeon, a 19-year-old student. “I pray for the victims. I can’t believe this accident happened despite the signs that were clear beforehand. Nothing was done to prepare for this crowd,” she criticized. In the Itaewon district, where the fatal crowd movement occurred, passers-by stopped to pray and lay flowers and bottles of alcohol as offerings in front of another memorial, improvised in front of a metro station.

criticism of the authorities

The police announced on Monday that they had set up an investigation team which viewed the videos of the surveillance cameras of the surrounding businesses and questioned dozens of witnesses, in order to determine the exact cause of the tragedy. But on the internet and in the press, criticism flared Monday against the authorities, accused of lack of anticipation.

About 100,000 people, mostly in their twenties and dressed up for Halloween, had converged on Saturday on Itaewon, a district of bars and nightclubs made up of a maze of narrow, steeply sloping alleys along a main avenue. Witnesses described a total absence of measures aimed at channeling or controlling this huge crowd.

Police acknowledged on Monday that they only deployed 137 officers to Itaewon on Saturday evening, while stressing that this figure was higher than those for Halloween parties in previous years. Local media pointed out that most of these police were there to prevent drug use, not to channel the party crowd.

“Police officers at the scene did not detect a sudden increase in the crowd,” South Korea’s national police law enforcement bureau chief Hong Ki- told Yonhap news agency. hyun. “It’s a disaster that could have been controlled or prevented,” Lee Young-ju, a professor in the fire and disaster department at Seoul University, told YTN.

Many more people than in previous years

On social media, many users accused the police of completely failing to control the crowd, leaving too many people to crowd around Itaewon subway station and in the alleys where the deadly stampede occurred. “I’ve been living in Itaewon for ten years and have seen Halloween parties every year, but yesterday’s one drew way more people than the previous ones,” said a Twitter user, also pointing to the absence of any control measures.

Witnesses described scenes of chaos and horror in the sloping alley just three meters wide, where thousands of revelers began pushing each other, falling on top of each other, choking and panicking , without any police presence.

The disaster left 154 dead, including 26 foreigners, according to the latest official report which could still increase, with at least 33 injured people in critical condition.

#Nation #mourns #victims #Halloween #stampede

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