Update: This story has been updated throughout with the latest death toll and new details.
At least 146 people were killed and 150 more injured when they were crushed by a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities Saturday night in Seoul, South Korean officials said. Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul's Yongsan fire department, said that the death toll could rise and that an unspecified number among the injured were in critical condition following the stampede in the leisure district of Itaewon, the AP reports. Many of the bodies were being taken to a nearby gym for identification, he said.
People were crushed after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul, officials said. Some local media reports earlier said the crush happened after a large number of people rushed to an Itaewon bar after hearing an unidentified celebrity had gone there. About 100,000 people had flocked to Itaewon streets for the Halloween festivities, which were the biggest since the start of the pandemic, the reports said, following the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions. More than 800 emergency workers and police officers from around the nation, including all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed to the streets to treat the injured.
Emergency workers and pedestrians were seen performing CPR on victims lying in the streets. Witnesses said people caught in the crowd, some of whom were trying to leave the district at the end of the night, were unable to move their limbs in the crush of people, per the Washington Post. The lack of a cellphone connection kept people from calling for help, and they couldn't communicate to each other over the noise. The victims included Koreans and foreigners, officials said.