In a huge gymnasium in Seoul Tuesday, heartbroken families went through orderly rows of items left at the scene of the Itaewon street crush that killed many people.
Shoes, bags, glasses, notebooks, wallets, cardholders, and bright hats were scattered across the polished floor and on temporary tables, ready to be claimed by the 156 relatives of those slain in the mob rush on Saturday night.
The middle-aged woman, who had come with her husband, burst into tears and fell on the ground after realising that her knee-high boots were missing. It was surrounded by rows of black stilettos, sneakers, and boots. There was frequently only one shoe present.
A second younger woman entered the gym in search of her misplaced shoe while carrying a cast on her left arm. This woman, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed to have been in front of a bar in an alley when the crush occurred.
She claimed that when trapped in the mob, she nearly died from asphyxiation and that “a foreigner screaming at me to wake up.” The woman, whose arm was severely injured during the incident, claimed that she simply hung on until the throng dispersed so that she could be saved after she regained consciousness.
Family members entered the gym one by one and in small groups, being led by officials who hastily donned white gloves and directed them to the tables where they could examine and claim the thoughtfully organised belongings.
For the 156 individuals who perished in the crowd crush on Saturday night as up to 100,000 people jammed into the small streets of Itaewon to celebrate Halloween, including 26 foreigners, South Korea is in deep mourning.
Due to the area’s notoriety for Halloween celebrations in years before to the Covid administration, officials had anticipated large crowds, but police have conceded they were unprepared for this year’s turnout.
On Tuesday, Yoon Hee-keun, the chief of the National Police Agency, bowed profoundly before the media and admitted, for the first time, that the police in the capital that night had made mistakes.
Yoon claimed that before the incident, a stream of emergency calls poured into the police call centre, and officers could not effectively handle them.
Large crowds had gathered before the disaster, and the calls were about crises warning of the danger and severity of the situation, Yoon added. However, we believe that the police reaction to calls to 112 (the emergency telephone number) was insufficient.
The crowd crush, according to South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, was caused in part by a “lack of institutional understanding and respect for crowd control.”
A lack of thorough institutional understanding and concern for crowd management was one of the causes. But the cops are looking into it,” Han stated.
We don’t have a crowd control system, so even if extra police were sent to the scene, the situation appears to have reached a breaking point. We’ll need to wait until the police inquiry is complete to learn what caused it, he added.