Forensics investigators examined a debris-littered alley in South Korea on Monday whereas questions swirled about why 154 folks have been killed within the nation’s deadliest crushing catastrophe.
President Yoon Suk Yeol introduced a weeklong nationwide mourning interval following the Saturday crowd surge that occurred as tens of 1000’s of largely younger Halloween revelers celebrated within the standard nightlife space of Itaewon.
Mourners bowed heads and left flowers at one of many authorities’s particular memorial websites that opened Monday in Seoul and different cities, and plenty of companies canceled Halloween-themed occasions.
South Korea’s authorities had recognized all however one of many victims Monday, however the severe circumstances of not less than 30 of the 149 injured might increase the demise toll, officers mentioned.
Police mentioned they’ve launched a 475-member activity pressure to research the tragedy. Twenty-six international nationals have been among the many useless, together with two Individuals, the State Division confirmed to USA TODAY.
Police mentioned they dispatched 137 officers to keep up order throughout the festivities on Saturday, and a few are questioning whether or not that was sufficient.
Here is what we all know:
What led to the gang come up?
The reason for the gang arises — a scene described by witnesses as nightmarish — was below investigation Monday.
The incident occurred in Itaewon, a hilly Seoul neighborhood recognized for the Halloween-themed events which have elevated in recognition lately amongst youthful South Koreans.
‘LIKE HELL’:Family members seek for family members in Seoul after deadlyHalloween crowd surges
The celebration was South Korea’s largest Halloween celebration for the reason that pandemic, and one of many metropolis’s largest for the reason that nation relaxed COVID-19 restrictions in 2022.
Survivors described folks in costumes being pushed down and toppling over one another alongside a slender downhill alley.
“I nonetheless cannot consider what has occurred. It was like a hell,” mentioned Kim Mi Sung, who carried out CPR on a number of victims on the scene.
How are police investigating the catastrophe?
As Nationwide Forensic Service workers examined the location of the incident Monday for solutions, the police activity pressure was additionally assigned to look into the reason for the surge. Investigators pieced collectively the night time’s occasions utilizing footage from space safety cameras and movies posted to social media.
Greater than 40 witnesses and survivors have spoken with police, in keeping with senior police officer Nam Gu-Jun.
“The federal government will completely examine the reason for the incident and do its finest to make crucial enhancements of techniques to stop an identical accident from recurring,” South Korea’s Prime Minister, Han Duck-soo, mentioned at a disaster-related assembly.
Why are officers going through criticism?
Officers’ determination to assign fewer than 140 cops to the casual Halloween occasion attended by 1000’s has come below hearth amid requires accountability within the catastrophe’s wake.
The South Korean authorities has additionally insisted that there was no solution to predict the gang would get uncontrolled.
The 137 officers in Itaewon have been instructed to watch crime and drug use relatively than crowd security. “Nobody was taking care of pedestrian security,” mentioned Kong Ha-song, a catastrophe prevention professor at South Korea’s Woosuk College.
Kong mentioned potential bottleneck factors ought to have been monitored by extra police and authorities staff, who he mentioned could have prevented the tragedy by imposing one-way strolling lanes and shutting off entry to slender pathways.
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Emergency staff in search of assist from pedestrians to carry out CPR have been overwhelmed by the dense crowd, which delayed paramedics from reaching the scene, mentioned Choi Sukjae, an emergency medication specialist and chief spokesperson of the Korean Emergency Medical Affiliation.
Seoul-based Hanyang College city planning professor Lee Changmoo mentioned the gang surge deaths needs to be considered as a “artifical catastrophe.”
“Our nation normally does job in following the handbook and sustaining crowd management at occasions the place there is a particular organizer, however officers are sometimes not sure what to do and even do not care about occasions that are not created by a particular organizer, though it is these occasions that normally require a better watch,” he mentioned.
By comparability, in one other a part of South Korea’s capital the night time of the gang surges, almost 7,000 cops have been assigned to patrol protests that drew not less than 10,000 attendees.
Hong Ki-hyeon, a senior nationwide police company official, mentioned police do not have a longtime protocol for informally organized gatherings.
“In occasions like festivals which have a particular organizer, discussions are made between associated municipalities, police, hearth departments and medical consultants who put together and cooperate below totally different roles,” Hong mentioned. “That’s what we lacked relating to this accident.”
Who have been the US victims in South Korea?
The demise toll of Individuals killed within the crowd emerged remained at two Monday, and three US residents have been injured, the State Division mentioned.
The 2 Individuals killed have been 20-year-old school college students: Anne Gieske, a nursing junior from the College of Kentucky, and Steven Blesi, a world enterprise main from Kennesaw State College. Each universities confirmed the scholars’ deaths on Twitter.
Gieske’s mother and father expressed heartbreak and devastation over their daughter’s demise by means of the workplace of US Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who was Gieske’s uncle.
“She was a shiny gentle cherished by all,” her household mentioned in an announcement.
Gieske was learning overseas with two different Kentucky college students who’ve been confirmed secure, in keeping with college President Eli Capilouto.
Contributing: Thao Nguyen, USA TODAY; Cameron Knight, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Related Press