Two Americans were killed in Seoul Halloween crowd crush

Flowers are seen near the scene of a deadly accident in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, following Saturday night’s Halloween festivities. A mass of mostly young people celebrating Halloween festivities in Seoul became trapped and crushed as the crowd surged into a narrow alley, killing dozens of people and injuring dozens of others in South Korea’s worst disaster in years. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Two U.S. college students were among at least 153 people killed in a crowd stampede in Seoul, South Korea during Halloween festivities over the weekend. 

One of the Americans was a University of Kentucky nursing student, while the other was a Kennesaw State University student.

In a news release, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said Anne Gieske, a Northern Kentucky native and third year nursing major studying abroad in South Korea, died in the crowd crush.

“There aren’t adequate or appropriate words to describe the pain of a beautiful life cut short. It isn’t fair, nor is it comprehensible. It is loss and it hurts in ways that are impossible to articulate,” Capilouto said in his statement. 

“In the fullness of time, it is easy to say that we know that life is fragile. It is. One moment we are celebrating, engaging with friends, experiencing new things — all those wondrous events, small and large, that make our shared humanity so special and memorable.”

Capilouto two other UK students and a faculty member were in the country but are safe.

The other American killed was Steven Blesi, 20, of Marietta, Georgia, who was in South Korea to study business and the Korean language during his fall semester at Kennesaw State, his father told NBC News.

“I can’t imagine the suffering he endured,” Blesi told NBC News. “The SK [South Korean] police should have been better prepared.”

In a statement on Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul confirmed the deaths of two Americans in the incident, saying that its staff is working closely with local law enforcement in an effort to provide assistance to victims.

The embassy noted in its statement that it was not providing details due to privacy considerations. 

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives last night, to include two young Americans celebrating alongside their Korean friends and others from around the world,” U.S. Ambassador South Korea Philip Goldberg said in a statement. 

South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol declared a week of mourning period on Sunday.

Authorities said that they believe tens of thousands of individuals traveled to the nightlife district of Seoul for Halloween festivities, with some witnesses saying that the streets were congested with too many people and slow-moving vehicles. 

Authorities said at least 103 people were injured in the crowd crush, with 23 of those individuals currently in critical condition.

Updated: 7:58 p.m.

Tags crowd crush crowd surge Philip Goldberg Seoul South Korea U.S. Embassy University of Kentucky
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