The tragic event that happened in Seoul can be described as a crowd crush or surge, but not a stampede. A crush or surge happens when people are packed together in a confined space and there’s movement such as pushing that causes the crowd to fall over. Essentially, Still said, a “domino effect.” While a stampede implies that people had space to run, which was not the case in Itaewon, he said. The more people who are in the crowd, the greater the force of the crowd crush is.
At least 149 people were killed and another 150 injured after they were crushed in a large Halloween crowd in Seoul on Saturday night, the city’s fire department said, in one of the deadliest peacetime accidents in South Korea’s recent history.
The crowd surge happened in the busy Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul, a popular nightlife spot that attracted tens of thousands of people on Saturday. There was no single event planned, per Reuters. But crowds from bustling bars and nightclubs poured into a narrow, sloped alley connecting a subway station to the main street. Sometime after 10 pm, the street became full beyond capacity. Social media accounts of the night, compiled by Reuters, said that people near the top of the alley lost their footing and fell into crowds below, starting a fatal crush. The tragedy prompted national mourning in South Korea and questions of whether more could have been done to prevent it.
The Itaewon tragedy is the worst peacetime disaster in South Korea since the Sewol ferry sank off the country’s southwestern coast in 2014. Like the ferry disaster, the majority of the victims in Itaewon appeared to be in their youth — out for Halloween festivities in the nightlife district.