Tributes pour in for Seoul stampede victims

By YANG HAN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-02 07:51
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A woman prays for victims of the disaster. [Photo/AP]

Flowers of mourning, condolence gifts mark tragedy

White flowers of mourning and condolence gifts lie near the narrow alleyways of Itaewon, the popular nightlife district of Seoul, where scores of Halloween revelers died in a stampede on Saturday evening.

As of Tuesday morning, the death toll from the disaster was at least 156, according to South Korea's Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. Most of the victims were in their 20s, with 12 of them as young as 10.A total of 151 people were injured in the stampede, 29 of them seriously.

The tragedy was the deadliest such incident in South Korea's history and the worst peacetime disaster the nation has seen since 2014, when 304 people died in a ferry accident.

Twenty-six foreigners from 14 countries were among the Itaewon victims, including five from Iran, four from China, four from Russia, two from the United States and two from Japan.

As many as 100,000 people dressed in costumes gathered in Itaewon to celebrate South Korea's first public Halloween event since the government lifted COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing rules. The accident happened at around 10:30 pm, when people were trapped and crushed as the crowd surged into a sloping alley less than 4 meters wide.

President Xi Jinping sent a message on Sunday to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, expressing deep condolences over the victims' deaths and sincere sympathies to the injured and families of the bereaved.

Xi regretted that several Chinese nationals were killed or injured in the accident, and hoped that South Korea would spare no effort to treat the injured and deal with follow-up issues appropriately.

A week-long period of national mourning is being held in South Korea, with all state and government agencies flying flags at half-mast. The Chinese embassy in Seoul is among the diplomatic missions that have expressed condolences to victims of the disaster.

People across South Korea are paying their respects to the victims at mourning altars laden with white chrysanthemums. Yoon and first lady Kim Keon-hee visited an altar in Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall.

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