Seoul Halloween crush: Eyewitnesses describe the ‘slow and agonising’ horror as crowd ‘just couldn’t breathe’ | World News

Witnesses have revealed the harrowing details of the fatal crush in Seoul.

More than 150 people have been confirmed dead after a stampede occurred in the South Korean capital.

One witness, Nathan Taverniti, from Sydney, Australia, described the horror of watching his friend die in a now deleted TikTok video.

Mr Taverniti said: “I was there when she said she couldn’t breathe.

“We were yelling… ‘You have to go back, you have to turn around’… but nobody was listening.”

He described the situation not as a stampede but as a “slow and agonising” crush.

Two of his other friends were also injured in the crush which began when a large crowd pushed down a narrow street in the Itaewon area of the city.

In his video, which has so far been viewed over nine million times, Mr Taverniti tearfully continued: “I watched as people filmed, and sang and laughed while my friends were dying, along with many other people.

“You know how many people were going to that event. Why were you not prepared?”

Mr Taverniti said “random people” were providing CPR on the ground, and it took 30 minutes for the first police to arrive at his location.

The cause of the crush is currently unclear, but some local media reports suggested the crowd rushed down the narrow street after hearing an unidentified celebrity was in the area.

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Sky News has analysed videos from social media to show how Halloween celebrations in Seoul turned into a deadly crush

Footage posted online showed hundreds of people trapped in the alley as police and emergency services desperately tried to free them.

Olivia Jacovic, another witness from Australia, described people as being “packed like sardines” in the street.

The 27-year-old, who lives and works in Seoul, told Channel 9 news: “Once we shuffled out, we were… shoulder to shoulder, people were looking up in the air trying to breathe… there was a few expats around me that were saying that apparently there was a few people already getting CPR.

“People were just shuffling through. It took a long time to get through the crowd at all. Some people were trying to get out, but they couldn’t.”

Read more:
Seoul partygoer describes panic of crush at crowded Halloween event
How did Seoul Halloween celebration turn into a deadly crush?

People react near the scene of a stampede that happened during Halloween festivities, in Seoul, South Korea, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

She went on to describe how the Halloween party was located near a hill and she had heard rumours of people having “fallen down” at the bottom, leading to a “domino effect” of people tripping over one another.

Ms Jacovic said as the situation worsened she just “wanted to get out of there” and her clothes were torn and her arms bruised as she manoeuvred her way to the side lines.

“People just couldn’t breathe,” she added. “The shorter people were just trying to look up in the air to get some sort of air.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee arrive to pay tribute for victims of a deadly accident following Saturday night's Halloween festivities at a joint memorial altar for victims at Seoul Square in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (Ahn Jung-hwan/Yonhap via AP)
Image:
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his wife Kim Keon-hee pay tribute to the victims

Ken Fallas, a Costa Rican architect who has worked in South Korea for the last eight years, described seeing lots of young people unable to process what they had just witnessed.

He said he’d seen people laughing because they were “too scared” and didn’t know how to react to what was going on.

The 32-year-old added: “Nobody knew what was happening, people were still partying with the emergency happening in front of us.”

Investigators inspect the scene of a stampede that happened during Halloween festivities, in Seoul, South Korea October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji.
Image:
Investigators inspect the scene

The true scale of the tragedy is still coming to light, but officials have already confirmed citizens lost their lives in the incident from at least 24 different countries, including Australia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.

South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol has promised to “thoroughly investigate” the incident and has declared a period of national mourning.

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