On Monday, a shaken Seoul was just beginning to put together the huge scope of the crowd surge that killed people in their 20s and 30s, including foreign nationals, on Saturday night, while witnesses present at the Halloween event in Itaewon recalled the horror.
As of Sunday evening, officials put the death toll at 153 and the number of injured people at 133. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said it expected the death toll to rise on account of the number of injured people in serious conditions.
Some survivors at the scene desperately tried to pull out those who were trapped underneath the crush of people but failed because too many in the crowd had fallen on top of them. Some people were unable to move at all for 40 minutes.
“We were just stuck together so tightly we couldn’t even shift to call out and report the situation,” said one witness, surnamed Lee. “We were strangers, but we held each others’ hands and repeatedly shouted out, ‘Let’s survive!’”
Kim Mi Sung, a witness who works for a non-profit organization in Itaewon, told The Associated Press that nine out of the 10 people she gave CPR to eventually died. Many were bleeding from their noses and mouths. Most were women dressed as witches or were in other Halloween costumes; two were foreigners. “It was like a hell,” Kim said. “I still can’t believe what happened.”
“I thought I was dying,” one woman said in posts on Twitter. “My entire body was stuck among everyone else, while people laughed from a terrace and videotaped us. I thought I would really die if I cried out. I stretched my hands out to (others) who were above me and I managed to get out.”
An unidentified female witness in her 20s wept as she described the scene to the Yonhap news agency: “It looked like the graves of people piled upon one another. Some of them were slowly losing consciousness and others seemed to have already died.”
A male witness, surnamed Kong, said he managed to escape to a nearby bar with his friends after the crush happened. He saw through the bar windows that people were falling on top of each other “like dominoes,” Yonhap reported.