A Singapore youth has recalled how he narrowly escaped the devastating crowd crush accident that took place on Saturday (29 Oct) during a Halloween parade in Itaewon, South Korea.
25-year-old local photographer Xu told the Chinese news that he was so excited to be able to spend Halloween in Korea but his joy quickly turned into a nightmare as the crowd grew too big, resulting in a deadly crowd crush that claimed the lives of 153 parade participants. Many of those who died in what is being called the ‘Itaewon Stampede’ were young adults in their teens or early 20s.
Offering his account of what took place on the ground, Xu said that he had flown to the capital South Korean city of Seoul with two other friends on the 29th for a nine-day trip.
He said, “We went there (Itaewon) especially because we saw the Halloween event in Itaewon on the Internet.”
The group arrived in Itaewon at 8.45pm SGT on the same day, and then walked to one of the alleys, intending to have drinks to celebrate Halloween. However, halfway through, they realized that something was wrong and decided to leave the area immediately for safety.
Xu recounted, “When we tried to follow the crowd, we found that the pace was slow, people were pushing from the front and the back. After a while, someone pushed us and lost our balance. Since the situation was out of control, we needed to use a little bit strength to protect ourselves.”
In the chaos, Xu became separated from his friends. In order to avoid being surrounded by the crowd, he quickly climbed up the steps of a bar, walked slowly along the steps, then jumped onto the adjacent roof, and finally jumped to the ground safely.
Xu reunited with his two friends at 9.30pm SGT and it was then that he discovered bodies lying on the ground, one after another, and many police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.
During his escape, Xu was pressed against the wall and his fingers suffered cut. Expressing fear as he recalled the terrifying experience he had, Xu said: “I thought if I didn’t do something, I might pass out or even die in (the crowd) because no one was going to save me at the time.”
Although his near-death experience has not put him off of visiting crowded places in the future, Xu said he will definitely pay more attention to his surroundings.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported zero Singaporean fatalities and the Singapore embassy in Seoul is in close contact with the authorities.