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South Korea investigating crowd surge that killed more than 150 people

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)

South Korea is investigating the deadly crowd surge at a Halloween celebration in Seoul over the weekend, which left 154 people dead.

Authorities have launched a 475-member task force to probe the incident as they hope to determine when, where and how the surge started on Saturday.

Police are reviewing surveillance footage from about 50 cameras in the area and have interviewed more than 40 witnesses, senior police officer Nam Gu-Jun told reporters on Monday.

The deadly incident sparked international concern and questions about the origins of the chaotic crowd surge that killed 26 foreigners, including two Americans.

More than 100,000 people were gathered in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood, a popular nightlife district, for a holiday event that ballooned into the largest Halloween celebration for the country since the pandemic began.

The Korea Times reported that Itaewon has grown overcrowded over recent years, especially during Halloween. In the district, crowds can sometimes become massive and uncontrolled, according to the outlet.

Police said 137 officers had been dispatched to the Halloween event, a larger amount than previous celebrations in the past few years.

President Yoon Suk Yeol has declared a one-week national mourning period for South Korea and opened memorial sites around Seoul.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags crowd surge Nam Gu-Jun Seoul South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol
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