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Callers Warned Police Before Seoul Crush, but Over 150 Still Died


  • People called the police warning them of potential dangers in the hours before the deadly Seoul crowd crush.
  • Eleven emergency calls were made in the four hours before the Saturday crowd surge, Reuters reported.
  • “People are falling down on the streets, looks like there could be an accident,” one caller warned.

In the hours and minutes before more than 150 people were killed in a massive crowd crush in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, desperate Halloween revelers warned police the situation was “very dangerous” and “chaotic.”

Eleven emergency calls were made in the roughly four hours before the weekend crowd surge in the district of Itaewon and the transcripts of those calls — released on Tuesday — paint a harrowing scene of people pleading for help. 

“Looks like you can get crushed to death with people keep coming up here while there’s no room for people to go down,” someone warned in the first emergency call that was made at 6:34 p.m. local time on Saturday, Reuters reported. 

The caller continued, “I barely managed to leave but there are too many people, looks like you should come and control,” according to the news outlet. 

A crowd of about 100,000 people had been celebrating on the narrow streets of Itaewon when the deadly crush unfolded.

Only 137 police officers had been dispatched to the area at the time, authorities have said. 

“People are falling down on the streets, looks like there could be an accident, it looks very dangerous,” another caller warned to police at 8:33 p.m., Reuters reported, citing the transcript. 

Another alarmed caller told police, “This is chaos. Chaos … I’m not even kidding,” The Washington Post reported. 

“We’re all trapped. This is about to become a major disaster,” the caller said while pleading, “Please do something about this street. I seriously think people are going to die,” according to the Post. 

Just minutes before the crowd surge in the nightlife district turned deadly, someone made an emergency call at 10:11 p.m. saying that people “will get crushed to death here,” Reuters reported. 

“It’s chaotic,” the caller said, according to the transcript, which noted that screams could be heard, reported Reuters. 

Meanwhile, Yoon Hee Keun, the commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency, admitted on Tuesday that the crowd control at the scene of the tragedy was “inadequate” as he explained how police received multiple calls that night from people warning about possible danger, the news outlet reported. 

“I feel a heavy responsibility [for the disaster] as the head of one of the related government offices,” Yoon said during a televised press conference, according to The Associated Press. 

“Police will do their best to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” he said. 

The deadly crowd crush — one of the worst disasters in the country in years — also left more than 150 people injured. 

Twenty-six foreign nationals from countries including the United States, Iran, China, Russia, and Japan were among the dead, according to the AP.


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