A Quebecer witnessed a real horror movie on Saturday evening, seeing dozens of lifeless people on the ground during a Halloween party that became the deadliest stampede South Korea has ever known.

“I saw 20 or 30 people on the ground receiving heart massage. I was in shock. At first, I thought it was just a fire in a bar,” says Alexandra Bélec, who has lived in Seoul for 12 years now.

This Montreal lawyer came across a crowd of about 100,000 people who had come to celebrate Halloween in Itaewon by chance, returning from a party around 10 p.m.

“I live in this neighborhood. There were so many young adults in the narrow streets on Saturday because it was the first time in two years that this party had returned. I’ve always hesitated to go there because I don’t want to find myself stuck with everyone and having trouble breathing, “says Ms. Belec to the Journal.

Asphyxiated dead

The worst nightmare of the Quebecer has unfortunately materialized. At least 153 people died in a mob in Itaewon and 3,500 others are still missing.

“When I got home I realized the drama that was happening seeing all the bodies piled up in the streets. I watched the news until 5am. I was sad and really angry.”

Note that, according to the Korean Yonhap News Agency, “doctors estimated that the main cause of death during the stampede […] was cardiac arrest caused by asphyxiation”.

Alexandra Bélec says that during the chaos, many revelers did not realize that Halloween at Itaewon had become a real Hollywood horror movie.

“People were still doing makeup on site, taking pictures and there was music. It was always the party, even if lots of people were receiving cardiac massages next door. They did not seem to understand, ”sums up painfully Ms. Bélec.

Lack of security

The young woman is especially “shocked” to have seen fewer first responders to supervise the Halloween party this year.

“It was the thing that troubled me the most and kept me up all night. I saw a maximum of 10 policemen before help arrived. It is incomprehensible that we went there. Especially since they knew that 100,000 people were at the party because they can calculate the number of entrances and exits on the subway in Seoul. Even ambulances and firefighters had difficulty getting around,” laments Alexandra Bélec.

On Sunday, the South Korean president promised a rigorous investigation into the deadly stampede to understand the origin of this disaster, in addition to decreeing national mourning.

According to several local media, party attendees rushed to a bar after spotting a Korean celebrity. This is how the crowd movement would have started. The National Fire Agency also reported that most of the victims were women in their twenties.

“It’s all just surreal,” concludes Ms. Bélec.