Seoul Halloween crowd crush updates: At least 153 dead in crowd surge, officials say

At least 153 people are dead and 82 injured after being crushed by a crowd during Halloween celebrations in Seoul, South Korean officials said, as the death toll from the disaster continues to rise.

The victims are mostly in their 20s, according to the National Fire Agency. Two Americans were among the 19 foreign nationals who died, ABC News confirmed.

PHOTO: Rescue workers wait with bells at the scene where dozens of people were injured in a collision during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Rescuers wait in ambulances at the site where many people were injured in a crash during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

PHOTO: Partygoers leave the scene of a stampede during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Partygoers leave the scene where several people were killed and injured in a clash during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

University of Kentucky student Anne Gieske was among the victims, the school’s president, Eli Capilouto, said in a statement Sunday.

“Anne, a junior nurse from northern Kentucky, was studying in South Korea this semester through a study abroad program. We have two other students and a faculty member there this semester, as well. They have been contacted and are safe,” Capilouto said. .

“We have been in contact with Anne’s family and will offer any support we can – now and in the days ahead – as they cope with this unspeakable loss,” he added. “We will be there for those in the community who knew and loved Anne. We also have almost 80 students from South Korea in the UK – members of our community – who will need our support.”

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Steven Blesi, 20, of Georgia, was also identified as one of the victims.

His father, Steve Blesi, told ABC News that “the world is a darker place without Steven.”

“Last night we received a call that no parent should receive. Our beloved son Steven died in this tragic event in South Korea where he was studying outside of the semester. We are saddened and we ask for your prayers,” said Steve Blesi in a statement.

Kennesaw State University, where Steven Blesi was a student, also released a statement, saying he was an international business major and one of 11 students from the South Korean university as part of a study abroad program. Other students were reported safe, KSU said.

“On behalf of the entire Kennesaw State community, our thoughts and prayers go out to Steven’s family and friends as they mourn this incredible loss,” said President Kathy Schwaig. “We have been in contact with Steven’s family and have provided them with all the University’s available resources.”

More deaths were feared in the conflict, officials said during the previous update when the victims stood at 120 dead and 100 injured.

FILE: A man receives medical aid from rescue team members at the scene of a mass casualty crash during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

A man receives medical aid from members of a rescue team at the scene where several people were injured in a collision during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

PHOTO: Medical workers attend to a person on a stretcher after several people were injured on the street, after people thronged the crowded streets of Itaewon city to celebrate Halloween, in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Medical workers attend to a person on a stretcher after several people were injured on the street, after people thronged the crowded streets of Itaewon city to celebrate Halloween, in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Several victims were transferred to local hospitals in cardiac arrest after emergency CPR, the agency said.

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The injuries occurred Saturday night in the entertainment district of Itaewon, when a large crowd pushed through the area’s narrow streets, according to witnesses.

The incident was first reported around 10:20 pm local time, officials said. It took time for rescue workers to respond due to the large number of people.

More than 100,000 people gathered for Halloween parties in this area, known as night dances. This place has bars located along a narrow back alley off the main street. People have been stuck in these winding roads, according to witnesses.

Video footage from the scene showed the panic and police response in the district as a crowd of people, some in uniform, gathered at the scene. CPR could be seen being performed on the street.

The cause of the traffic jam is under investigation, officials said.

PHOTO: Bystanders, police and medical workers gather after several people were injured on the street, after people crowded the crowded streets of Itaewon city to celebrate Halloween, in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Bystanders, police and medical workers gather after several people were injured on the street, after people thronged the crowded streets of Itaewon city to celebrate Halloween, in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

PHOTO: People sit on the street after being rescued from a stampede during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

People sit on the street after being rescued, at a site where many people were injured in clashes during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

‘It was just too scary’

Janelle Story, an American who has been living in South Korea since 2016, told ABC News the place is always crowded, especially on Halloween. But this was “another level.”

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“This is the first time since the epidemic that we have been able to go out,” he said. “Itaewon is famous for being very crowded, but this was a level I had never seen before.”

PHOTO: Prescue teams work at the scene of a mass casualty crash during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Rescue teams work at the scene where several people were injured in a collision during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

PHOTO: Victims' belongings are seen at the scene where many people were injured in a clash at a Halloween event in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Victims’ belongings are seen at the scene where many people were injured in a clash during the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, on October 30, 2022.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

Story and a friend were jumping around when he started photographing the crowd at 10:30 p.m., he said.

“That’s when I saw in front of me a lot of people who like to run and push and walk fast and then cry, scared,” he said. “We were just stopping and slowing down. And it just happened. Bam! This wall of people came towards us.”

“I stopped doing the film because it was too scary,” he continued.

Ubali said he heard some bystanders saying that people were fainting. As they try to get to the subway station they see fire trucks, ambulances and police cars, before they get home safely.

“I can’t believe this happened. I don’t know how,” he said. “This sounds like an unusual occurrence.”

‘Sad’ reports

The US offered its support to South Korea after the disaster.

“The reports coming out of Seoul are devastating,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan he said on Twitter. “We are thinking of all those who have lost loved ones and hope for a speedy recovery for those injured. The United States must stand ready to provide the Republic of Korea with whatever support it needs.”

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden offered “deepest condolences to the families who lost their lives in Seoul.”

“We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes to all those injured,” the president said in a statement. “The alliance between our two countries has never been stronger or more important – and the relationship between our people is stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea at this difficult time.”

ABC News’ Nicholas Cirone contributed to this report.



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