In the first outdoor, mask-free Halloween celebration since the 2020 pandemic, local media reported 152 people were killed and more than 100 others injured during Halloween festivities in Seoul’s Itaewon district.
It is estimated that approximately 100,000 revelers were out celebrating in the popular nightlife area, as reported by Yonhap News.
Several videos have been posted online showing people dressed in fancy costumes being pushed through narrow streets. In order to escape the deadly crush, some people climbed the walls on either side.
In other videos followed by the fatal crowd surge, rescuers are seen attempting to free unconscious people trapped below others as well as emergency workers performing CPR.
Images showed people receiving first aid near the Hamilton hotel in Itaewon and being taken to ambulances.
Government officials sent emergency text messages urging residents in the affected area to return home. More than 400 emergency workers and 140 vehicles were on the scene.
In the elbow-to-elbow crowd, some celebrants were completely entrapped. Many people were unable to call for assistance due to the loud noise, according to reports.
According to the BBC, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has called an emergency meeting.
A number of people posted on social media earlier in the evening that the Itaewon area was too crowded and unsafe.
Despite dozens of dead bodies on the streets, Seoul’s Yongsan fire chief Choi Seong-beom told reporters only 13 bodies had been transported to hospitals.
“The situation in the area is still chaotic, so we are still attempting to determine how many people were injured,” said Moon Hyun-joo, spokesperson for the National Fire Agency.
According to reports, at least some foreign victims were involved.
The president held an emergency meeting with his aides and dispatched emergency medical teams to the scene, according to his office.
The authorities are trying to determine what caused the stampede.