At least 120 dead in South Korea after crowd surge during Halloween festivities, officials say

Tragedy filled the streets of South Korea’s capital Saturday night when 200 or more people were crushed as crowds surged through a narrow Seoul street, leaving more than 120 dead, according to officials’ estimates.

Pedestrians joined hundreds of emergency workers in offering aid as dozens of people lay in the street, many in cardiac arrest. Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department, released preliminary death tolls as he acknowledged many of the dead remained at the scene. Dozens who had been on the streets were being transported to a nearby gym where workers would identify them, he said.

In the streets, ambulances lined up; emergency responders rushed the injured on stretchers; motionless bodies lay under blue blankets — these scenes were broadcast on TV footage and captured in photos of the carnage. The crush happened in the leisure district of Itaewon, where local media said 100,000 people were expected for Halloween festivities.

The epicenter of the tragedy disaster appeared to be an alley near a major party spot in Seoul — Hamilton Hotel. Citing local media reports, the Associated Press said the crush may have happened as people rushed to a bar seeking to see a celebrity. Following the fatal crowd surge, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a statement calling for swift treatment for the injured and a safety review of the festivity sites.