Emergency calls from Seoul show four hours of chaos, police inaction

Emergency calls from Seoul show four hours of chaos, police inaction


South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Wednesday vowed to hold police accountable for the deadly surge in Halloween crowds in Seoul after a log of emergency calls showed authorities were slow to respond.

Crowds in the narrow streets of Itaewon’s entertainment district killed 156 people on Saturday, mostly costumed young partygoers looking for a night of fun in the wake of the pandemic.

The first 911 call was made at 6:34 p.m., with a nervous caller warning that police needed to control the crowd before the crowd turned deadly.

What follows is a condensed transcript obtained by AFP of about a dozen of those increasingly frantic calls to the police:

6:34 p.m. (0934 GMT)

“It gets really edgy with people pacing up and down that alley. People can’t go down here, but people keep coming up. I feel like people are being crushed to death. I barely got out. I think you have to control the situation.”

8:09 p.m

“Too many people are being pushed, trampled, injured here. It’s messy. You have to control that.”

8:33 p.m

“People get trampled on the streets here. This is getting dangerous… There is no control and a three-lane road is completely closed. I shot a video. can i send it to you

8:53 p.m

“People are being crushed almost to death… There are too many people… This is not a prank call.”


“The situation here is on the verge of getting into a serious accident with too many people. They must come to bring it under control.”

9:02 p.m

“People are being pushed hard here and everyone is panicking… Please do something to make room here. I think people will die here.”

9:07 p.m

“I’m in danger of being crushed to death with so many people here… I’m asking you to direct the one-way traffic here.”

9:10 p.m

“The situation here is really serious. People in the alley are being pushed so hard… This isn’t just a shop area. The whole alley is (in danger).”

“I get it. We’ll use police officers there,” a police officer told the caller.

9:51 p.m

“There are too many people here. Can you come here as soon as possible to control the crowd?”

10:11 p.m

“It looks like people are being crushed to death there…total chaos.”

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