South Korea vows tough action to quell anger over Halloween crush

SEOUL, Nov 1 (Reuters) – South Korea moved to calm public outrage on Tuesday after a Halloween party that killed more than 150 people, most of them young people, promised a swift and thorough investigation and called for tough new security measures to prevent similar incidents. Disasters.

Saturday’s crowded Halloween street party left 156 people injured, 151 injured, 29 of them critically. Among the dead are 26 citizens from 14 countries.

Tens of thousands of revelers – many in their teens and twenties and dressed in costumes – thronged the narrow streets and alleys of Itaewon district, famous for its first practically unrestricted Halloween festivities in three years.

The country’s chief security officer, Interior Minister Lee Sang-min, apologized on Tuesday, vowing to find the cause of the incident and prevent similar cases from happening again.

“As the minister overseeing public safety, I apologize for this incident,” Lee said, adding that “the government has an unlimited responsibility for the safety of our people,” as he addressed the parliamentary session on live television.

And he came under heavy public criticism after saying that even the deployment of the police could not have prevented the disaster.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon also offered a tearful apology during a media briefing, and said the city government would put all available administrative resources in place “until every citizen can return to their normal lives.”

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National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-kyun acknowledged on Tuesday that crowd control at the scene was “inadequate”, noting that police had received several reports warning of possible accidents on the night of the disaster.

“The police will quickly and rigorously conduct intensive investigations and investigations into all aspects without exception to explain the truth of this accident,” Yoon told a press conference.

Prime Minister Han Duk-soo said the ongoing investigation would include whether the on-site responses of government agencies were adequate. He pointed out that inadequate organizational measures to manage crowds were one of the reasons for the deadly outbreak.

President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a week of national mourning, saying the country had many security disasters. Better responses, including improved crowd control, are critical, he said.

“We need to come up with robust security measures to manage crowds, not only in these streets where this huge disaster took place, but also in venues like stadiums and concert halls where large crowds gather,” he told a cabinet meeting.

All the victims were identified, and memorial altars were erected at Seoul City Hall and in Itaewon district, where citizens paid their respects.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin; Written by Jack Kim; Editing by Jerry Doyle and Jacqueline Wong

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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