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Footage inside Seoul crowd reveals partygoers’ panic before crush that killed 153 people

Footage taken from within a crowd in Seoul shows the panic among Halloween partygoers before a crush that killed more than 150 people.

Shouting and screams can be heard as partygoers tried to push their way through the narrow alleyway in the Itaewon area, while music from the nearby nightclubs continued to blare in the background.

The current death toll stands at 153, mostly teenagers and adults in their twenties, with warnings it could rise further. South Korean officials said more than 90 per cent of those killed have now been identified.

Witnesses say it was almost impossible for emergency vehicles to make their way through (REUTERS)
Witnesses say it was almost impossible for emergency vehicles to make their way through (REUTERS)
Video from the scene showed how people struggled to make their way through the packed backstreets (@JANELLES_STORY via REUTERS)
Video from the scene showed how people struggled to make their way through the packed backstreets (@JANELLES_STORY via REUTERS)

Other eyewitness footage showed emergency workers and pedestrians trying to resuscitate those who were injured on the roads, as some were carried away from the scene.

A night of partying turned into a tragedy as the crowds swelled in the area’s backstreets and panic erupted.

Witnesses said the crowd surge caused “a hell-like” chaos as people fell on each other “like dominos”.

Some people were bleeding from their noses and mouths while being given CPR, witnesses said, as others dressed in Halloween costumes continued to sing and dance nearby, oblivious to the severity of the situation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the scene on Sunday morning (AP)
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the scene on Sunday morning (AP)

The streets were so densely packed with people and slow-moving vehicles that it was almost impossible for emergency workers and ambulances to reach the alley quickly, said some witnesses.

Among the dead are 19 foreigners, said Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department. The victims include people from Iran, Norway, and Uzbekistan, as well as four Chinese nationals and one Australian.

Onlookers, police and paramedics in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon (AFP via Getty Images)
Onlookers, police and paramedics in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon (AFP via Getty Images)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol declared a one-week national mourning period and ordered flags at government buildings and public offices to fly at half-staff.

During a televised speech, he said supporting the families of the victims, including their funeral preparations, and the treatment of the injured would be a top priority for his government.

Rescue workers treat injured people on the street near the scene in Seoul (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Rescue workers treat injured people on the street near the scene in Seoul (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

He also called for officials to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and review the safety of other large cultural and entertainment events to ensure they proceed safely.

“This is really devastating. The tragedy and disaster that need not have happened took place in the heart of Seoul amid Halloween (celebrations),” Yoon said during the speech.

“I feel heavy-hearted and cannot contain my sadness as a president responsible for the people’s lives and safety.”