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Hundreds of lost shoes await owners after deadly crowd crush in South Korea

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
At least 146 people were killed in a crush when a huge crowd celebrating Halloween surged into an alley in a nightlife area of the South Korean capital of Seoul on Saturday night, emergency officials said – Oct 29, 2022
Shoes are seen among a huge collection items found in Itaewon following South Korea’s deadliest crowd surge. AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Hundreds of abandoned shoes and lost items laid out in neat rows are awaiting survivors and the families of victims in a sports centre in Seoul — a chilling reminder of South Korea’s deadliest crowd surge in history.

Just days before, rescuers were bringing the bodies of Halloween revellers who died in a tragic stampede to the Wonhyoro sports centre. Now, the gym has been set up as a lost-and-found centre for the hundreds of items that were left behind in the deadly confusion.

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Clothes collected from the scene of a deadly accident following Saturday night’s Halloween festivities are placed at a temporary lost and found centre at a gym in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Police assembled hundreds of pairs of crumpled tennis shoes, loafers and Chuck Taylors in the aftermath of the crush, which experts say reflects the force of a crowd surge that stripped footwear from the feet of victims.

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In total, around 1.5 tons of personal objects were left behind by victims and survivors of the tragedy.

Blood-tainted shoes retrieved by police from the scene of a fatal Halloween crowd surge that killed more than 150 people in the Itaewon district. Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

The crush occurred on Saturday night in the nightlife district of Itaewon, where tens of thousands of partygoers, many in costume, gathered for Halloween celebrations. It’s still unclear what caused the crowd to surge, but South Korean officials say throngs of people got jammed in a narrow, downhill alley.

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Survivors of the deadly crush were seen carrying the wounded and dead as people administered CPR to victims on the pavement. Dozens of lifeless bodies covered in blankets were laid out in rows in the aftermath.

Clothing and wigs retrieved by police after a deadly stampede of Halloween revellers. Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Most of the victims were women and about 80 per cent of the dead were in their 20s and 30s, but at least four were teenagers.

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Some 250 pairs of shoes at the gym are part of a huge collection of abandoned items found in Itaewon following the tragedy. There are also hundreds of pieces of clothing, including coats and movie character costumes, as well as handbags, smartphones, Bluetooth earpieces and a few passports, including at least one belonging to a U.S. citizen.

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Handbags retrieved by police from the scene of a fatal Halloween crowd surge that killed more than 150 people in the Itaewon district. Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

As of Tuesday afternoon, 156 people were confirmed dead and 151 were being treated for injuries, with 29 of them in critical condition. Officials say 26 of the dead were foreign nationals, including five Iranians, four Chinese, four Russians, two Americans and two Japanese citizens.

Personal belongings, including a US (top) and South Korean passport retrieved by police in Itaewon. Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Global Affairs Canada confirmed that one Canadian was among the injured.

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The gym was opened on Monday for people to claim their lost items, but a police officer told Reuters that few have come so far.

— With files from The Associated Press

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