- Death toll rises to 154 from Saturday’s crash, 149 injured
- Government promises thorough investigation
- Residents, officials offer condolences at memorial service
- South Korea disaster worst since Sewol ferry sinking in 2014
- Halloween celebrations, other events canceled
SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Reuters) – South Korean Prime Minister Han Duk-soo will launch a thorough investigation into the weekend of Halloween, which left more than 150 dead and a week of mourning in the capital Seoul on Thursday. I promised.
Officials said the death toll rose to 154 overnight, with 149 injured, 33 of them in critical condition. Among the dead were citizens of at least 20 countries.
Tens of thousands of party-goers flocked the narrow streets and alleys of Seoul’s popular Itaewon district on Saturday for the first virtually unrestricted Halloween celebration in three years. They were in their teens or twenties and wore costumes.
Witnesses said, however, that crowds, especially in the narrow, sloping alleys, threw into chaos, even though it was already full.
On Monday morning, people placed white chrysanthemums, drinks and candles on a small makeshift altar at the exit of Itaewon subway station, a few steps away from the crash site.
“It doesn’t matter how or why they died. Poor people as old as my grandchildren died anyway,” said Jeong Si-hoon, a retiree and church elder. Cross at the Altar “What more shall I say? We should pray for them and pray that they are at peace.”
Nearby shops and cafes were closed, and police cordoned off the scene, which was littered with trash.
Schools, kindergartens and businesses across the country have canceled their planned Halloween events. K-pop concerts and government briefings have also been cancelled.
“The government will thoroughly investigate the cause of this accident and do its best to make necessary changes to the system to prevent such an accident from happening again.”
“With the identification of all but one of the 154 deceased, I think it’s time to fully implement follow-up measures such as funerals,” Han said. We will do our best to reflect the voices of the bereaved families and provide necessary support.”
Han said there had been incidents of people spreading hate speech by blaming the victim, spreading false information, and posting disturbing scenes of the incident online. It said it was investigating six incidents.
President Yoon Sook-yeol, who has declared a nationwide mourning period and designated Itaewon as a disaster area, visited a memorial altar near Seoul City Hall on Monday to pay tribute to the victims.
After more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions, Itaewon, the epitome of bohemian nightlife in the South Korean capital for decades, has seen trendy restaurants and shops give way to shady establishments. Instead, the crash happened just as it was starting to thrive.
The disaster is the country’s deadliest since the 2014 ferry sinking that killed 304 people, mostly high school students.
Criticism of the sinking of the Sewol ferry and the official response have sent shockwaves across South Korea and prompted widespread soul-searching about domestic security measures likely to be renewed in the wake of Saturday’s clashes.
Reporting by Choonsik Yoo, Ju-Min Park, Joyce Lee and Soo-hyang Choi. Written by Lincoln Feast. Editing by Kim Coghill, Gerry Doyle and Edmund Klamann
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