SEOUL – South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo vowed on Wednesday to hold police accountable for Seoul’s deadly Halloween crowd surge, after a log of emergency calls showed authorities were slow to respond.
The crush in the narrow alleyways of the Itaewon entertainment district on Saturday killed 156 people, mostly costumed young party-goers looking for a night of post-pandemic fun.
The first emergency call was made at 6:34 pm, a nervous caller warning that police needed to control the crowd before the crush of people turned deadly.
What follows is a condensed transcript, obtained by AFP, of about a dozen of those increasingly desperate calls to police:
6:34 pm (0934 GMT)
“This is getting really nervous with people coming up and down this alleyway. People can’t walk down here but people keep coming up. I feel like people are going to get crushed to death. I barely got out of it. I think you need to control the situation.”
“There are too many people here being pushed, trampled, hurt. It’s chaotic. You need to control this.”
“People are trampled on the streets here. This is getting dangerous … There’s no control and a three-way road is all blocked. I have a video shot. Can I send it to you?
“People are almost getting crushed to death … There are too many people … This is not a prank call.”
“Situation here is on the verge of falling into a major accident with too many people. You need to come to put it under control.”
“People are being pushed hard here and everyone is in panic … Please do something about making space here. I think people are going to die here.”
“I am at the risk of being crushed to death with so many people here … I please ask you to direct one-way traffic here.”
“Situation here is really serious. People inside the alley are getting pressed so hard … This is not just a store area. The whole alley is (in danger).”
“I got it. We will deploy policemen there,” a police responder told the caller.
“There are too many people here. Can you come out here as soon as possible for crowd control?”
“It looks like people are getting crushed to death there … total mayhem.” – AFP