South Korea vows probe into deadly Halloween crush

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South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Monday promised a thorough investigation into the Halloween crush over the weekend that killed more than 150 people in the capital and plunged the country into a week of mourning.

Officials said the death toll had risen overnight to 154 with 149 injured, 33 of them in serious condition. Citizens from at least two dozen countries were among the dead.

Tens of thousands of party-goers had crowded into narrow streets and alleyways of Seoul’s popular Itaewon district on Saturday for the first virtually unrestricted Halloween festivities in three years.

Many of the revelers were in their teens or twenties and dressed in costume. But chaos erupted when people poured into one particularly narrow and sloping alley, even after it was already packed, witnesses said.

On Monday morning, people laid white chrysanthemums, drinks and candles at a small makeshift altar off an exit of the Itaewon subway station, a few steps away from the site of the crush.

“It doesn’t matter how they died, or why they died. Those poor people, all at similar ages to my grandchildren, they died anyway,” said Jung Si-hoon, a retiree and a church elder, who placed an old wooden cross at the altar.

“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 as government officials met to discuss the disaster. “Identification has been completed for all of the 154 deceased except one, and I believe it is time for follow-up measures such as funeral procedures to be carried out in earnest,” Han said.—INP

 

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