Oct 30, 2022
Crowd surge in Seoul at Halloween Celebrations Turns Deadly Transcript
South Korea has declared a period of national mourning after the deaths of more than 150 people at a Halloween celebration in Seoul. Read the transcript here.
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South Korea is in mourning after more than 150 people were killed in a crush at a huge Halloween celebration in the capital of Seoul. The ABC understands at least one Australian has died, dozens of people have been injured, and there are fears that the death toll could rise. North Asia correspondent, James Oaten, is in Seoul for us tonight, and a warning, this report has some disturbing footage
James Oaten (00:37):
In a narrow alley, crushed against the wall, many just couldn’t escape. Around 100,000 people had come to this popular night spot to celebrate Halloween.
Speaker 3 (00:49):
Oh my God, oh my God.
James Oaten (00:50):
No one knows what’s set off the stamped. People came together for the first time since COVID restrictions were lifted to party and the crowds were huge. When panic set in, they scrambled to get out, but it was near impossible. Many fell and dozens were knocked unconscious, bystanders rushed to help be injured. Emergency vehicles struggled to get to the site through roads jammed with people.
Speaker 4 (01:29):
It looked like a scene from a movie, like things happening during a war. It was completely out of control.
James Oaten (01:35):
The Itaewon area in Seoul is full of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, it’s the favorite venue for a night out for locals, expatriates, and international travelers.
Speaker 5 (01:46):
There was a [inaudible 00:01:47].
James Oaten (01:48):
This Australian lost his friend.
Speaker 5 (01:50):
There’s so many people [inaudible 00:01:53], and I had to turn around and I told the crowd, “You can’t come this way, people are dying.” Because I already knew how bad it was, and people were being so rude, and I had to tell them like, “You can’t come this way.” Then it took so long for emergency services to arrive.
James Oaten (02:20):
Most of the victims were teenagers and young adults in their twenties.
Speaker 6 (02:23):
[foreign language 00:02:25].
James Oaten (02:27):
Dozens were rushed to hospitals and the death toll could rise. For these young survivors who walked away, the scars will remain.
North Asia correspondent, James Oaten, joins me now from Seoul. James, what more do we know about this disaster?
James Oaten (02:45):
Well, Lara, I’m standing in front of the site of last night’s tragedy, and you can see it’s still [inaudible 00:02:51] off. There is a heavy police presence here and around the area, and there’s been a steady stream of investigators walking up and down that laneway. But when you stand there and look up that laneway, it is eerily quiet when compared to last night and the scenes that we’ve seen now. President Yoon Suk-yeol has called for a thorough investigation, so hopefully they can find out what exactly happened and the findings of that investigation will help prevent another tragedy like this from happening again. Crowd control seems to be the obvious issue here, we’ve heard from the interior minister today, he’s talked about police that were really not expecting the big numbers that we saw last night, and the extra officers that might have been useful for crowd control were actually elsewhere overlooking a protest.
We have some more information on our breaking news this hour that an Australian is understood to have died in that crowd crush. A Sydney man in the Seoul has told the ABC it was a friend of his. He says another Australian is in intensive care and another dual citizen is in stable condition. The Department of Foreign Affairs has not confirmed if any Australians are missing. Meanwhile, Australia’s embassy and Soul is making further urgent inquiries about the situation. The Department of Foreign Affairs says, “The Australian government sends its deepest condolences to those affected.” It says, “Any Australians concerned about the welfare of loved ones can call DFAT’s Consular Emergency Center on 1300555135.”