Probe vowed amid grief for Seoul crush victims
China Daily

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his wife Kim Keon-hee hold flowers as they visit a memorial altar in Seoul for victims of the stampede. [Photo/Agencies]

People in South Korea mourned the victims of the Itaewon crowd crush on Monday as the government promised a thorough investigation into the deadly Halloween accident, which killed at least 154 people and injured 149, with 33 of them in serious condition.

White flowers, gifts and condolence cards were lined along the streets and stores suspended business in the capital Seoul's Itaewon district. Signs on shop windows conveyed condolences on Monday, as people poured drinks and read their messages to grieve those killed.

"Please go to a better world and realize your unfulfilled dreams," one handwritten message showed by local media read. Beneath it was a bottle of soju, a popular Korean alcohol, along with a stack of small paper cups.

"I came out to pray for the victims and their families," a 29-year-old citizen surnamed Yoon told Yonhap News Agency. "I hope people can find hope in the midst of despair."

Haunting memories

Nuhyil Ahammed, one of the survivors, told the BBC that he was caught in the crush and there was nothing anyone could have done to save others. He has trouble sleeping as he keeps seeing people dying in front of him.

"People began pushing from behind, it was like a wave — there was nothing you could do," the 32-year-old said.

Local authorities said on Monday that nearly 100 of the victims were women, while more than 50 were men. Most of them were in their 20s and 30s. Another 149 people were injured as partygoers fell and were trampled on.

Among the dead were 26 foreigners, with five from Iran, four from China, four from Russia, two from the United States, two from Japan, and one each from Australia, Norway, France, Austria, Vietnam, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.

On Monday, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo promised a thorough investigation into the incident, as local media questioned whether the authorities would have anticipated that more than 100,000 people would gather in Itaewon for Halloween.

"The government will undertake a thorough investigation into what caused this accident and do its best to make necessary institutional changes so that such an accident is not repeated," Han said.

Meanwhile, investigators are analyzing footage taken by security cameras in the area at the time of the crush and related video clips posted on social media, as well as interviewing witnesses, to look for answers as to how a surge had killed so many.

Distressing videos of the stampede have spread across social media with one showing people, mostly in their teens or in their 20s, packed into a narrow sloped alley from three directions. The alley is so narrow that they could not move, and then they started being pushed in every direction and some were dragged down.