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Stronger control was necessary, said the witnesses recounting the accident

Police and the National Forensic Service officials conduct a joint inspection at the scene of the crowd surge accident in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Monday. (Yonhap)
Police and the National Forensic Service officials conduct a joint inspection at the scene of the crowd surge accident in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Monday. (Yonhap)

Around the moment of the accident, many foreign tourists who witnessed the scene commented the main street should have been closed to help create extra space.

“I’ve managed to escape the ally (where the accident took place) just before it happened,” said Nofit, a 29-year-old tourist. “It almost took 15 minutes to walk about three to four meters.”

However, Nofit said she saw police or guards guiding the crowd inside the subway station after the disaster, but not that many police beforehand.

Revital, a 54-year-old tourist said she was at the Itaewon station around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I did not see any officials or authorities inside the subway. But it was really crowded. It took almost 20 minutes just to get out of the subway station.”

She pointed out the street was full of vehicles as the one of the main reasons the crowd could not escape. “The main street was opened to vehicles. If the street was closed (to vehicles), people could have escaped. They could not run out because they were afraid of the cars.”

Moon Min-sik, who has a parking lot nearby the disaster scene, also said the road should have been closed off.

“Back in 2017, I recall part of road was closed and police formed a safety line. Similar measure should have been made this year," he said.

"The local government and district offices should have cared more. More active control and number of police should have been deployed," deplored Moon.

Park, a male restaurant owner in his 30s who have lived in Itaewon his whole life and saw most Halloween celebrations, said the alley where the accident happened has always been the most jammed with tourist and partygoers.

“The alley (where the accident occurred) is where the most popular restaurants and bars are clustered. Everyone who lives around the area doesn’t visit there because it’s obvious the alley is going to be crowded with people.”

“There has always been this high amount of people during Halloween. I’ve seen almost every Halloween festival throughout the years, and this year wasn’t a special situation,” said Park.



By Lee Jung-youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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