South Korea president declares mourning period after 151 killed in stampede
South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol on Sunday declared a week-long national mourning period after at least 151 people died in a Halloween party crowd crush in a nightlife district in Seoul, The Associated Press reported.
Yoon ordered flags at government buildings to fly at half-staff, and declared the district of Yongsan-gu, where the incident took place, as a special disaster zone to expedite recovery efforts.
“Through this, the government will be able to subsidize necessary expenses for those who have suffered an accident, such as medical expenses for the wounded and funeral expenses for the dead,” Yoon’s office said in a statement.
The incident on Saturday night is believed to be South Korea’s worst disaster in years.
Witness videos show a harrowing scene of the chaos, with bystanders giving CPR to people who were unconscious on the street.
Tens of thousands of people were believed to have traveled to the Itaewon area for Halloween festivities, and witnesses indicated the streets were densely clogged with people and slow-moving vehicles.
Yoon’s office said the crowd crush was the government’s top concern, directing the country’s interior ministry to make support for the casualties a top priority.
President Biden on Saturday extended his condolences to the victims’ families.
“We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all those who were injured,” Biden said in a statement. “The Alliance between our two countries has never been more vibrant or more vital – and the ties between our people are stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time.”
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