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Radio communication among rescue team during Itaewon tragedy released

Radio communication exchanged between emergency rescue officers responding to the Oct. 29 Itaewon disaster was released Tuesday, revealing the chaotic situation that took place that tragic night.

Rep. Lee Sung-man of the main opposition Democratic Party released the transcripts of the recordings he received from the Seoul Emergency Operations Center. It shows communication among the rescue officers sent after the initial citizen’s report to the 119 emergency center on 10:15 p.m., which is the estimated time of the fatal crowd crush that took 156 lives.

Rescuers from the Yongsan Fire Station departed for the scene three minutes after receiving the report. According to the transcript, there had been 29 requests of police dispatch from the rescue team throughout the disaster.

The following are translated excerpts from the transcript:

People visit the make-shift memorial altar at the Itaewon Station, the site of the Oct.29 Itaewon tragedy that claimed 156 lives, in this Nov.4 file photo. (Yonhap)
People visit the make-shift memorial altar at the Itaewon Station, the site of the Oct.29 Itaewon tragedy that claimed 156 lives, in this Nov.4 file photo. (Yonhap)

10:20 p.m.

“Many people are piled on top of each other, and it’s very crowded.”

“Please urge for additional dispatch of police officers.”

10:23 p.m.

“There’s been a report that about 10 people are pinned down.”

10:24 p.m.

“Most reports say (people) may be crushed to death.”

10:29 p.m.

“We’re having difficulty (approaching the scene) by vehicle. The team is moving on foot.”

10:31 p.m.

“We’ve received reports there are three people who lost consciousness, and there may be more. We got more than 30 reports.”

“About 30 people are collapsed in the alley right next to the Hamilton Hotel. No sight of the ambulance as of now.”

10:41 p.m.

“(The rescue team) needs to approach the alley by entering the front entrance of the Hamilton Hotal and exiting through the back door. About 15 (people) are doing CPR, but we’re short on support. All team members, hurry.”

“There are about 15 that have collapsed here, and we’re doing CPR. It’s urgent.”

10:50 p.m.

“We need more people at the back alley, much more”

10:55 p.m.

“The No. 1 exit (of Itaewon Station) near Hamilton Hotel entrance is out of control, and (the rescue team) can’t get in. Ask the police to dispatch additional officers.”

10:56 p.m.

“All team members come to the back (of the hotel). There’s been a massive surge in patients in need of resuscitation.”

10:58 p.m.

“Team members should head to the back of Hamilton Hotel as soon as they arrive. We should pick up the people in order to rescue those in the front.

11:00 p.m.

“There are 30 doing CPR (on the patients) at the back of the (hotel) building. We are short on officers. Citizens are helping out with CPR. There are over 30, 30!”

“Thirty people are completely unconscious. We need more people here.”

Around 11:05 p.m., the chief of the Yongsan Fire Station assumed command of the rescue operation, requesting for an additional rescue team and ordering his team to move immediately to the back of the hotel.

“All team head back to the Hamilton Hotel. There are so many patients (in need of) CPR, we can’t even count them,” he said.

11:16 p.m.

“Except for those who are conscious, can talk, or show movement, please stop CPR,” a rescue team member said, reminding others to focus the rescue attempt on those with chances of survival.



By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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