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Seoul mayor apologizes over Itaewon disaster

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon holds back tears while apologizing over Itaewon's Halloween crowd crush in a news conference at his office on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon holds back tears while apologizing over Itaewon's Halloween crowd crush in a news conference at his office on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon apologized Tuesday over the Halloween crowd crush that killed at least 156 people.

"As the mayor of Seoul who is responsible for the lives and safety of citizens, I feel infinite responsibility for the accident and express my deepest apologies," Oh said in a tearful voice during a news conference at his office.

"The Seoul city government will do its best to mobilize all its administrative power until all funeral procedures are completed and the bereaved families, the injured and all citizens who feel sorrow from this accident can return to their daily lives."

The mayor then vowed to devise measures to prevent such a tragic accident from happening again. "From now on, the (city government) will do its best to remove the danger of safety accidents in places or events where many people gather," he said.

The apology came amid growing media scrutiny that administrative authorities and police failed to enforce crowd control in Itaewon, the site of the tragedy, despite anticipation that huge numbers of people would flock to the area last Saturday.

Some critics say the Seoul city government, the office of Yongsan Ward to which Itaewon belongs and police should have taken sufficient accident prevention measures in anticipation of a Halloween crowd of over 100,000 people.

Oh was visiting Europe at the time of the Itaewon disaster. He returned on Sunday after cutting short his overseas trip.

Earlier in the day, Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min and national police chief Yoon Hee-keun made similar apologies over the disaster. (Yonhap)

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