A stampede survivor that killed 154 people in South Korea has recalled the horror of being surrounded by lifeless bodies scattered around her after managing to escape the Halloween crush.
Around 100,000 people, mostly in their 20s and teens, sported Halloween costumes and rushed into the streets on the first night out without Covid restrictions.
Among those who tragically died was 24-year-old singer and actor Lee Ji Han, who appeared on reality TV show Produce 101 to start a K-pop band.
Police said 137 officers were deployed at the event in the Itaewon nightlife district but witnesses revealed they were more focused on tackling substance use instead of crowd control.
Federica and Mink, students from Italy and the Netherlands, went to the event on Saturday night as many partygoers started collapsing.
Speaking to BBC, Mink said: “At the end of the alley there were 30, 40 bodies around me. Everybody had been having fun, smiling, looking crazy, looking great. It just wasn’t something you could imagine would happen.”
Federica also said: “Seoul is famous for policemen being everywhere, and you always feel safe. It could have been better managed.”
Mourners were seen praying, weeping, and leaving flowers at an official altar arranged for the 154 victims, who were mostly young women.
Hwang Gyu-hyeon, a 19-year-old student, told AFP in tears: “I am devastated by what happened, they were just trying to have a good time.
“I pray for the victims. I can’t believe this accident happened despite the signs that were clear beforehand. Nothing was done to prepare for this crowd.”
69-year-old Song Jung-hee also said how she kept thinking about how spirited and excited the young victims must’ve been as it was the first time in three years that they could finally enjoy a night out without restrictions.
“If only there had been more police officers to keep order, this would not have happened,” she expressed.
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