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Canadian among injured in Halloween stampede that killed over 150 in South Korea

South Korea stampede: Witnesses describe “out of control” crowd as Halloween festivities turn deadly

A Canadian was among those injured in a crowd surge that killed more than 150 people in Seoul, South Korea, Global Affairs confirmed Sunday, while Korean Canadians said they were shocked by the disaster.

The federal department said Canadian officials are in touch with local authorities to gather more information and provide consular assistance to those affected.

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It said it can’t release any further information about the person who was hurt, including whether the person was hospitalized or the severity of the injuries, 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 statement issued on Sunday. “To our friends in South Korea, we stand with you during this difficult time.”

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As of Sunday evening, South Korean officials said 153 people were killed and 133 were injured after a huge Halloween party crowd surged into a narrow alley in the nightlife district of Itaewon.

Tens of thousands of people were believed to have gathered Saturday night for the festivities.

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.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the death count could further rise as 37 of the injured people were in serious condition.

Korean Canadians said they were upset to hear the news.

“My heart is broken, especially since so many young people have died,” said Michaela Le, who works with uVillage Church in Vancouver.

The community is “shocked” by what happened. However, members haven’t had a chance to gather formally and talk about the disaster so it’s too early to say whether any supports are being organized for those affected, she said.

“It is such a sad, sad thing for the whole country and even for people who are living abroad to hear a story like this.”

Click to play video: 'At least 146 killed during Halloween stampede in Seoul, South Korea'
At least 146 killed during Halloween stampede in Seoul, South Korea

JeongWoong Seo, who is from Seoul but lives in Montreal, said she doesn’t believe she knows anyone affected. But she said her church community discussed the tragedy Sunday.

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“Today at service we talked about the news,” she said. “It’s very, very sad.”

Susan Shin, who works with the Korean Personal Support Workers’ Association in Toronto, said she learned about the news when friends shared it with her on a group chat.

“We are in deep sorrow,” she said.

Jasper Lim of the Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Toronto said the congregation prayed on Sunday for those affected.

The tragedy reminded many of the loss of young lives in 2014 when the ferry MV Sewol sank with students aboard, he said.

Some have questioned whether enough was done to prepare for the Halloween festivities, while others suggested the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions caused more people to crowd together, he added.

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.

 

— with files from The Associated Press

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