The last time Ahn Yeon-seon saw her daughter was on Saturday, when the 19-year-old asked for money so she could go out to celebrate Halloween with her boyfriend.
Hours later, Ahn received a call from the boyfriend saying her daughter had died in the crush that killed 151 people in the Itaewon nightlife district of Seoul.
Ahn told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that her daughter Seol Ye-sol had wanted to mark the occasion because her boyfriend was about to undertake his mandatory military service. Seven hours after Ahn last saw her daughter, Seol’s boyfriend called, crying.
He said Seol had been “under a pile of people for over an hour and that he’d tried to pull her out but couldn’t,” Ahn said.
Since then, Ahn has been searching hospitals for her daughter, waiting for confirmation of what happened to her.
She spoke to Yonhap from Soonchunghyang University Hospital, where many of the victims were taken.
Despite her young age, Seol had started working early to help support her family and raise her younger siblings after the early death of their father, her mother told Yonhap.
“I’ll just keep searching,” Ahn said.
More than 90% of the 151 people who were killed in a crowd surge in Seoul on Saturday during Halloween festivities have been identified, South Korea’s Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min said on Sunday.
Identification was still pending in some cases where the deceased was either under the age of 17 or a foreign national, Lee added.
The South Korean government will provide support and a fund for families of those killed and injured in a crowd surge during Halloween festivities in Seoul, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said on Sunday.
The crush in the nightlife district of Itaewon killed 151 people, including 19 foreign nationals, and injured a further 82.
The South Korean government will “operate a funeral support team and respond fully to the treatment of the injured” along with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Han said. Psychological treatment for the families and the injured will also be provided, the prime minister added.
The government will “actively consult with diplomatic offices to ensure there is no shortage of support,” Han said.
“Our country has a history of overcoming disasters with all citizens united in one mind,” Hand said, adding, “I earnestly ask all the people to join so that we can overcome sorrow and rise again.”
The national mourning period for the victims of the Halloween crush in Seoul will go from today through November 5.
During the mourning period, all public institutions and diplomatic offices will fly flags at half staff, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Sunday, adding that all non-urgent events will be postponed.
Civil servants and employees of public institutions will wear ribbons to express their condolences during the mourning period, Han added.
The crush that killed at least 151 people during Halloween festivities in Seoul on Saturday is among the most deadly such tragedies to have occurred across the world in recent years.
It comes just weeks after 131 people were killed in a crush that followed a heated soccer match between two of Indonesia’s biggest teams at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java on October 1. On that occasion, supporters of the two teams clashed in the stands before spilling onto the pitch. However, investigators have blamed the majority of deaths on the police’s use of tear gas as a crowd control measure.
The tragedy in Indonesia is recognized as one of the world’s worst stadium disasters and has drawn parallels with the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster in Sheffield, England, in which more than 90 people were crushed to death.
It also has parallels to one of Africa’s worst soccer disasters, when 126 people were killed at a stadium in Ghana in 2001 after police fire tear gas at rioting fans.
In Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, mass panic spread on the last day of a water festival in 2010. At least 350 people were killed during the crush, which took place on bridge near the Royal Palace.
Even more people died in Saudi Arabia in 1990 during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, when more than a thousand pilgrims were crushed to death inside the al-Muaissem tunnel near the Muslim holy city of Mecca. In 2015, another deadly crush saw 717 Muslim pilgrims killed.
In India in 2009, rumors of a landslide triggered a crush by pilgrims at the Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh state and at least 145 people died. A month later, 147 people were killed in a crush at the Chamunda temple near the historic town of Jodhpur.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol says the events in Seoul on Saturday night that led to the deaths of 151 people in an apparent crowd surge will be investigated and measures put in place to ensure it never happens again.
“We will have relevant ministries such as the Ministry of the Interior and Safety conduct emergency inspections not only for Halloween events but also for local festivals and thoroughly manage them so they are conducted in an orderly and safe manner,” Yoon said in a televised statement on Sunday.
Yoon also said that in addition to support for funerals, prompt medical support will be provided to the injured through a “multi-purpose emergency system.”
“I pray for those who died in an unexpected accident and hope that the injured will recover quickly,” Yoon said.