Halloween celebration in the South Korean capital Seoul on Saturday night turned into a tragedy as 151 people died and 82 were injured in a stampede at a prominent market. Victims in the age group of 20s were most affected by the accident, reported Yonhap news agency, citing the authorities.
The authorities said 97 women and 54 men were killed in the stampede and foreigners killed in the incident included those from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.
A parent of a victim reacts at a community service center after a stampede during Halloween festivities in Seoul, South Korea. (Image: Reuters)
By Reuters: In tears, Philomene Aby’s hands shook as she asked workers at a South Korean community centre for any news of her 22-year-old son, missing in the wake of a crowd surge in Seoul that left at least 151 people dead on Saturday.
Her son, Masela, went to work at a club in the city’s Itaewon area around 6 p.m. on Saturday. That was the last time Aby, a Seoul resident from the Ivory Coast, saw him.
“I called his number but … he wasn’t answering,” Aby told Reuters while standing in the Hannam-dong Community Service Center, which became a makeshift missing persons facility in the wake of the disaster.
Bureaucrats who typically handle birth certificates or housing registrations sought to help hundreds of distraught people seeking details of their relatives.
Officers at the centre manned emergency phone lines, taking hundreds of frantic calls to find missing people.
One person broke down and kneeled on the floor after speaking to some officials at the centre, according to a Reuters witness. A white board in the main office lists updated numbers of calls every hour, totalling more than 3,580 since 5.30 a.m. local time on Sunday.
“No one is telling me the truth,” said Aby, who has lived in Seoul with her son for 18 years. With no sign of news about the son, Aby left the centre for the Ivory Coast embassy.
Interior Minister Lee Sang-min told a briefing at midday local time (0300 GMT) that about 90% of the victims had been identified and authorities were still working on identifying the remaining 10%.
He noted that it takes more time for foreign nationals or teens who have yet to be registered with the government, in which cases they have to directly check with the families.