November 28, 2022

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Seoul | Halloween | Itaewon: Witnesses criticize lack of police during South Korea tragedy | the world

Witnesses in the Itaewon neighborhood have criticized the lack of police presence in the area, known as the busiest area today, after a crowd in a narrow alley during Halloween celebrations left at least 153 dead and about 80 injured. On these dates.

“We didn’t see any police and we were surprised to see people thronging the streets.” Efe tells Aiden Kim, a South Korean who lives in this part of the South Korean capital with his French girlfriend, Alexandra Belek.

See: Halloween tragedy in Seoul: 19 foreigners among South Korea’s stampede victims

The two had a drink at a hotel located about 700 meters from the scene of the tragedy and decided to approach the neighborhood’s main artery. Itwon Ro“See context”.

A man sits among the bodies of victims of a stampede in Seoul’s popular Itaewon nightlife district. (YELIM LEE/AFP).

During the trip to that avenue, perpendicular to the alley where the tragic meeting took place, they were surprised by the number of people in the neighborhood and the absence of police officers to direct traffic, both road and pedestrian.

See: South Korean president declares national mourning for Halloween crowd

Both emphasize that The lack of this system made it very difficult for ambulances to evacuate the injured quickly.

According to officials’ accounts and videos posted on social media, The tragedy happened, not because of overcrowding as first thought, but because people crowded into an alley that was only four meters wide and about 40 meters long. Most of them died of suffocation.

South Korean public opinion today marvels at the lack of foresight in a city accustomed to effectively managing demonstrations that gather thousands of people practically every weekend.

“The alley was already bursting with people around three or four in the afternoon (about 6-7 hours before the tragedy), so imagine what it was like at 10pm”The employee – who asks to remain anonymous – is a Turkish ice cream parlor located across the street from where the incident took place.

Medical staff treat a man on a stretcher in the popular Itaewon nightlife district in Seoul, South Korea on October 30, 2022.  (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
Medical staff treat a man on a stretcher in the popular Itaewon nightlife district in Seoul, South Korea on October 30, 2022. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

He doesn’t dare speak, and insists the energy in the neighborhood, famous for being next to a US military base and home to one of Seoul’s most diverse mosques, is “terrifying.”

“Halloween is over in this neighborhood”, To the owner of a nearby bar, he requests anonymity.

Halloween He explains that it’s “the busiest night of the year,” while the tragic impact on a neighborhood that lives off the hotel industry and already a big stigma after a major explosion. At the beginning of the pandemic, many cases of Covid infections appeared in nearby nightclubs.

“In Halloween Last year, records from Itaewon subway station showed that about 60,000 people visited the neighborhood, despite many bar-hour restrictions due to the pandemic. There should have been more yesterday,” adds the hotelier.

The bar is 100 meters away from the alley where the tragedy took place and today the police have completely cordoned it off, making it inaccessible from all the surrounding streets.

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