Halloween mass outbreak in Seoul, 59 dead - Choi Seong-beom, head of the Seoul Yongsan Fire Department said


Halloween mass outbreak in Seoul, 59 dead - Choi Seong-beom, head of the Seoul Yongsan Fire Department said

At least 59 people were killed and 150 injured after being run over by a mob pushing through a narrow street during Halloween celebrations in the capital Seoul, South Korean authorities said.

Choi Seong-beom, head of the Seoul Yongsan Fire Department, said the death toll could rise as rescue workers continued to transport the injured to hospitals in Seoul after Saturday night's raid on the Itaewon entertainment district. He said 13 dead people had been taken to hospital while another 46 bodies were still lying on the road.

Officials said people were believed to have died from falling debris after a large crowd entered a narrow alley near the Hamilton Hotel, the venue for a large party in Seoul.

More than 400 rescue workers and 140 vehicles from across the country, including all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed to the streets to treat the injured.

The National Fire Service said separately in a statement that officials were still trying to determine the exact number of emergency patients.

Television footage and photos from the scene showed ambulances lining the streets amid a strong police presence and rescue workers carrying the injured on stretchers. EMTs and pedestrians were also seen performing CPR on people lying on the road.

In one area, paramedics were seen checking the condition of a dozen or more people lying motionless under blue blankets.

The police, who restricted traffic in the surrounding area to speed up transportation of the injured to hospitals across the city, also confirmed dozens of people were resuscitated on the streets of Itaewon. The Seoul city government issued an emergency text message urging people in the area to return home immediately.

A local police officer said he was also informed that there had been raids on the streets of Itaewon, where crowds had gathered for Halloween celebrations. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity and said details of the incident were still being investigated.

Some local media previously said the accident happened after a large number of people rushed to the Itaewon bar after hearing that an unidentified celebrity was there. 

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a statement urging officials to immediately treat the injured and to check security at the resort. He also directed the Ministry of Health to immediately deploy an emergency medical team and provide beds in nearby hospitals to treat the injured.

Local media reported that about 100,000 people took to the streets of Itaewon for Halloween celebrations, the most since the pandemic began following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.