families identify lost items as South Korean police admit mistakes

Seoul, South Korea

In a cavernous Seoul gymnasium on Tuesday, grieving families inspected neat rows of personal belongings left at the scene of the deadly street crash in Itaewon.

Shoes, bags, glasses, notebooks, wallets, cardholders and colorful hats were laid out on makeshift tables and exercise mats along the polished floor – waiting to be claimed by the most close relative of the 156 victims killed in the crowd on Saturday evening.

” I found. I think that’s the one,” a woman said as she recognized a black coat, hugging him crying.

The middle-aged woman, who had arrived with her husband, collapsed to the ground in tears after discovering a missing pair of high boots. It was among rows of black boots, stilettos and sneakers. In many cases, there was only one shoe.

Another younger woman, with a cast on her left arm, entered the gym to find her lost shoe. The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was outside a bar in the alley when the lightning strike happened.

Stuck in the crowd, she said she passed out from asphyxiation “to the point where I thought I was dead, but a stranger yelled at me to wake up”. Her arm was badly bruised in the incident, and after she came to, the woman said she just held on until the crowd calmed down and she could be rescued.

The family members entered the gymnasium, one by one and in small groups, escorted by officials who rushed to put on white gloves and show them to the tables, so that they could inspect and claim the goods carefully. lined up.

South Korea is in deep mourning for the 156 people killed, including 26 foreigners, in the crush of crowds on Saturday night when as many as 100,000 people packed the narrow streets of Itaewon to celebrate Halloween.

Officials expected large numbers of people due to the area’s popularity for Halloween parties in pre-Covid years, but police admitted they were unprepared for the crowds of this year.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Yoon Hee-keun, head of the National Police Agency, bowed deeply as he began a press conference, admitting for the first time the failings of the police in the capital this that night.

Yoon said officers failed to respond adequately to emergency calls that poured into the police call center before the disaster.

“The calls were for emergencies indicating the danger and urgency of the situation that large crowds had gathered before the crash,” Yoon said. “However, we believe the police response to calls to 112 (emergency telephone number) has been inadequate.”

South Korean police received at least 11 calls from people in Itaewon about concerns about a possible crash as early as four hours before Saturday night’s incident, according to records given to CNN by the National Police Agency.

The first call was made at 6:34 p.m. Saturday from a location near the Hamilton Hotel, which borders the driveway where the killer wave occurred, records show.

“People are going up and down the alley now, but it looks really dangerous. People can’t go down but people keep going up (the alley) so I’m afraid people will be run over,” one caller said, according to the filing.

“I managed to get out, but there are too many people. I think you have to control this. Nobody controls (the crowd). I think the police should stand here and move some people around so others can get through the alley. People can’t even get through but there are more people coming in,” the caller added.

Then at 8:09 p.m., another person in Itaewon reported that there were so many people in the area that they were falling and hurting themselves. The caller called for traffic control, the record says.

The killing mob took place just after 10 p.m.

On Monday, Oh Seung-jin, director of the agency’s violent crime investigation division, said about 137 people were deployed to Itaewon that night, compared to about 30 to 90 people in previous years before the pandemic.

“For the Halloween festival of this time, because many people were expected to gather in Itaewon, I understand that it was prepared by putting in more police force than other years,” Oh said.

However, police at the scene were tasked with cracking down on illegal activities such as drug use and sexual abuse in the area “rather than controlling the site,” Oh said.

Police walk among personal belongings recovered from the scene of a deadly Halloween mob.

On Tuesday, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said a “lack of institutional knowledge and consideration for crowd management” was partly to blame for the crowd crush.

“One of the reasons was a lack of in-depth institutional knowledge and consideration for crowd management. However, the police are investigating,” Han said.

“Even though more police have been deployed (to the site), there seems to have been a limit to the situation as we don’t have a crowd management system, but we will have to wait for the police investigation to find out the cause. “, he added.

screengrab ripley will walk and talk

A CNN reporter returns to the narrow alley of Itaewon a day after the Halloween disaster. Look what it looks like

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Yoon Suk Yeol stressed the need to put systems in place to prevent similar tragedies.

“In addition to the side streets where the great disaster of this era occurred, (we) must establish security measures in stadiums, performance halls, etc. where the crowds gather,” he said, adding that the government will hold a national security system inspection meeting with relevant ministers and experts soon.

. Blow heart for Halloween Seoul families identify lost objects so police south korean admit his mistakes

. families identify lost items South Korean police admit mistakes

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