Warning: This story contains distressing images and information
A Canadian was among the people injured in the Halloween stampede that killed at least 150 people in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday, Global Affairs says.
“Global Affairs Canada is aware that a Canadian is injured in the mass casualty incident in Seoul,” the government agency said in an email to Yahoo News Canada. “Canadian officials are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
Global Affairs Canada did not provide more information about the injured person or their condition due to privacy considerations.
“Canada offers its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed during yesterday’s Halloween festivities and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” the department said in a tweet issued on Sunday. “To our friends in South Korea, we stand with you during this difficult time.”
Tens of thousands of people had crowded into narrow streets and alleyways of Seoul’s popular district Itaewon on Saturday for the first unrestricted Halloween festivities in three years.
The crowd consisted of mostly young people and teens, many of them in their early 20’s, were celebrating in one particular alley when they became trapped and crushed as a huge crowd surged into the narrow street. Officials say at least 153 people died and 133 people were injured, making it South Korea’s worst disaster in years.
Nearly two-thirds of those who were trapped and crushed – 97 – were women. Most were in their 20s and 30s, and at least four were teenagers.
South Korea's Ministry of Interior and Safety said at least 20 foreigners were among the dead, from China, Iran, Russia, the United States, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Norway, with several people still unidentified.
U.S. State Department later confirmed at least two U.S. citizens were killed in the stampede.
Videos online showed emergency workers and pedestrians desperately performing CPR on people lying in the streets.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo promised the country a thorough investigation into the matter that caused the deaths of many people.
“The government will undertake a thorough investigation into what caused this accident and do its best to make necessary institutional changes so that such an accident is not repeated,” Han said.
“Identification has been completed for all of the 154 deceased except one, and I believe it is time for follow-up measures such as funeral procedures to be carried out in earnest,” Han added.
President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of national mourning and designated Itaewon a disaster zone. He also visited a memorial altar near the Seoul city hall and paid his respects to victims on Monday.
During a televised speech, Yoon said supporting the families of the victims, including their funeral preparations, and the treatment of the injured would be a top priority for his government.
The world reacts to tragic stampede
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other international leaders in offering condolences to South Korea on Saturday following the deadly stampede.
“I’m thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy, and wishing a fast and full recovery to those who were injured,” Trudeau said in a tweet.
On behalf of Canadians, I’m sending my deepest condolences to the people of South Korea today, following a deadly stampede in Seoul. I’m thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy, and wishing a fast and full recovery to those who were injured.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 29, 2022
Korean American author and journalist Min Jin Lee also reacted to the news on Twitter and said, "I cannot imagine the heartbreak and despair" in a tweet.
We lost 151 people a few hours ago in Seoul. Over 80 were injured. Thousands have been reported missing, Most of those killed or injured were under thirty years old. An estimated 100,000 people were celebrating Halloween in Itaewon. I cannot imagine the heartbreak and despair.
— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) October 30, 2022
The Branksome Hall community in Canada and around the globe mourns alongside our sister school, Branksome Hall Asia, our South Korean alum, and all those impacted by the tragic events that took place on Saturday evening in Seoul, South Korea, at the Halloween festivities.
— Branksome Hall (@branksomehall) October 31, 2022
Seoul and Itaewon, one of its most vibrant neighborhoods, suffered so much today. I have no words. It’s an incredible loss. It is so sad to me that these young people have died after they had gone out looking for a taste of a different culture and a night of fun. No words.
— Kelly Kasulis Cho (@KasulisK) October 29, 2022
So many young Koreans go to Itaewon for Halloween because it has a particular freedom, openness, and meeting of cultures like nowhere else in Seoul. A place to let your hair down and enjoy. For that energy, bottled up for two years, to have ended like this... just unbelievable.
— Sokeel Park 박석길 (@Sokeel) October 30, 2022
Jill and I are devastated to learn that at least two Americans are among so many who lost their lives in Seoul. Our hearts go out to their loved ones in this time of grief, and we continue to pray for the recovery of all who were injured.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 30, 2022
Kenya mourns with the people of South Korea following the tragic crush that claimed many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) October 30, 2022
Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa directly at +1 613 996 8885 (collect calls are accepted where available), at 001-800-2326-6831, 008-800-2326-6831, 002-800-2326-6831 (toll-free from South Korea) or via SMS at +1-613-686-3658 (carrier charges may apply). An email can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.