At least 153 people have been killed and 82 injured in a stampede during a Halloween party in Seoul, South Korean officials said, as the death toll continues to rise.
According to the National Fire Agency, the victims are mostly in their 20s. ABC News confirmed that two Americans were among the 19 foreign nationals who died.
A University of Kentucky student, Anne Giske, was among the victims, Dean Eli Capilloto said in a statement Sunday.
“Anne, a nursing student from Northern Kentucky, is studying abroad in South Korea this semester. We have two other students and a faculty member there this semester as well. They have been contacted,” Capilloto said. and are safe.” .
He added: “We have been in contact with Anne’s family and will offer any assistance we can – now and in the coming days – as they come to terms with this indescribable loss. We will be there for those in our community who knew it and loved it. We also have nearly 80 students from South Korea in the UK – members of our community – who need our support.”
Steven Blasey, 20, from Georgia, was also identified as one of the victims.
His father, Steve Belsey, told ABC News that “the world is a darker place without Steven.”
Steve Blasey said in a statement: “Last night we received a call that no parent should ever receive. Our beloved son Steven died in this horrific incident in South Korea while studying abroad for a semester. We are devastated and our prayers go out to you. we do.”
Kennesaw State University, where Steven Blasey was a student, also issued a statement saying he was an international business major and one of 11 students at the university in South Korea as part of a study abroad program. KSU said the other students were reported safe.
“On behalf of the entire Kennesaw State community, our thoughts and prayers go out to Steven’s family and friends as they mourn this unfathomable loss,” said President Kathy Schweig. We have been in contact with Steven’s family and have provided them with all available university resources.
In an earlier update that put the death toll at 120 dead and 100 injured, officials said more casualties were feared.
Many of the victims were taken to local hospitals for cardiac arrest after emergency CPR, the agency said.
The deaths occurred Saturday night in the Itaewon entertainment district when a large crowd pushed through the area’s narrow alleys, witnesses said.
Officials said the incident was first reported around 10:20 p.m. local time. Due to crowding, it took time for rescue teams to respond.
More than 100,000 people gathered for Halloween parties in the area, which is famous for its nightclubs. This area has bars that line the narrow back alleys that line the main street. According to witnesses, people got stuck in these curved and steep alleys.
Bystander video from the scene showed a massive emergency and police response in the area as a crowd of people, some in uniform, were still gathered at the scene. CPR is seen being performed on the street.
According to officials, the reason for the increase in population is under investigation.
“It got so scary”
Janelle Storey, an American who has lived in South Korea since 2016, told ABC News that the area is usually crowded, especially on Halloween. But this was “another level”.
“This is the first time since the pandemic that we’ve actually been able to go out,” he said. Itaewon is famous for being crowded, but this was just a level I’ve never seen before.
Story and a friend were walking to the bar when he started filming the crowd around 10:30 p.m., he said.
“That’s when I saw this crowd of people in front of me who like to run and push and like to move fast and then scream and panic,” he said. “We were just kind of standing there, slowly. And then it happened. Bam! This wall of people came at us.”
“I stopped filming because it was too scary,” he continued.
Storey said he heard people passing out. When they tried to walk to the subway station, they saw fire engines, ambulances and police cars before they got home safely.
“I just can’t believe it happened. I don’t know how,” she said. “It just seems like an odd occurrence.”
The United States offered its support to South Korea in the wake of the disaster.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, “The reports out of Seoul are heartbreaking said on Twitter. We are thinking of all those who have lost loved ones and hope for a speedy recovery for those injured.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden expressed their “deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul.”
In a statement, the president said: “We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured.” “The alliance between our two countries has never been stronger or more vital – and the relationship between our people is stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea at this tragic time.”
ABC News’ Nicholas Cirone contributed to this report.