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Disaster

59 dead after Halloween crowd surge in Seoul

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4 minute read

By Kim Tong-hyung And Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — At least 59 people were killed and 150 more were injured after being crushed by a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities in the capital Seoul, South Korean officials said.

Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department, said the death toll could grow as emergency workers were continuing to transport the injured to hospitals across Seoul following the stampede in the leisure district of Itaewon Saturday night.

Choi said 13 of the dead have been sent to hospitals while the bodies of the remaining 46 were still on the streets.

Officials say it was believed that people were crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — At least nine people were killed and dozens more were injured after being crushed by a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities in the capital Seoul, South Korean officials said.

Choi Cheon-sik, an official from the National Fire Agency, said at least 60 more people were being treated for injuries at hospitals and that the death toll could grow following the stampede in the leisure district of Itaewon Saturday night. Officials say it was believed that people were crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul.

Officials from the National Fire Agency and the Ministry of the Interior and Safety earlier said about 100 were injured and around 50 were being treated for cardiac arrest as of early Sunday.

More than 400 emergency workers and 140 vehicles from around the nation, including all available personnel in Seoul, were deployed to the streets to treat the injured.

The National Fire Agency separately said in a statement that officials were still trying to determine the exact number of emergency patients.

TV footage and photos from the scene showed ambulance vehicles lined up in streets amid a heavy police presence and emergency workers moving the injured in stretchers. Emergency workers and pedestrians were also seen performing CPR on people lying in the streets.

In one section, paramedics were seen checking that status of a dozen or more people who lied motionless under blue blankets.

Police, which were restricting traffic in nearby areas to speed up the transportation of the injured to hospitals across the city, also confirmed that dozens of people were being given CPR on Itaewon streets. The Seoul Metropolitan Government issued emergency text messages urging people in the area to swiftly return home.

A local police officer said he was also informed that a stampede occurred on Itaewon’s streets where a crowd of people gathered for Halloween festivities. The officer requested anonymity, saying the details of the incident was still under investigation.

Some local media reports earlier said the crush happened after a large number of people rushed to an Itaewon bar after hearing an unidentified celebrity visited there.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a statement calling for officials to ensure swift treatment for those injured and review the safety of the festivity sites. He also instructed the Health Ministry to swiftly deploy disaster medical assistance teams and secure beds in nearby hospital to treat the injured.

Local media said around 100,000 people flocked to Itaewon streets for the Halloween festivities, which were the biggest since the start of the pandemic following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.

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Disaster

Canada announces $10 million in aid to Turkey and Syria after deadly earthquake

Published on

By Sharif Hassan

Ottawa will contribute $10 million to earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria as part of an initial aid package, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Sajjan said the federal government is looking at providing further aid and considering deploying the country’s disaster assistance response team to help with rescue operations and provide health services.

“We are conducting the needs assessment to look at what would be the next steps,” Sajjan said, adding that “nothing is off the table.”

The death toll of Monday’s earthquake has surpassed 6,200 and is expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue.

The powerful 7.8 magnitude quake, which was followed by strong aftershocks, has levelled thousands of buildings to the ground across southeastern Turkey and parts of neighbouring Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 13 million of the country’s 85 million people were affected, and he declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces.

Sajjan said Canada’s initial aid package in response to international disasters is normally lower, but the amount is warranted given the magnitude of the earthquakes.

“Usually we start a little bit lower but given the magnitude, based on the feedback we were getting, we are actually going higher, once we have more (details) we will be able to move very quickly.”

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, who also spoke with reporters after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, called the earthquakes an “absolute disaster,” which has “devastated” members of the Syrian community he has spoken with.

“We are watching very closely, and I should say, not only from an immigration of point of view, but also global affairs and international development, to figure out what the best response may be,” he said.

Turkish Canadians have also stepped in to raise funds and collect donations to send to their country of origin.

Baris Kafadar, the vice-president of the Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations, said the organization has set up a bank account to raise funds, and has set up locations where people can drop off non-monetary donations to be sent abroad.

“What is happening right now is we set up donation centres in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver where people come in, they donate clothing, non-perishable food, toys, safety equipment, sanitary stuff, anything we can basically send back to Turkey,” he said.

“Hopefully we can soon get enough money, find the right place to send the money to,” he said.

– With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.

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Disaster

Survivors scream as desperate rescuers work in Turkey, Syria

Published on

By Mehmet Guzel And Zeynep Bilginsoy in Adana

ADANA, Turkey (AP) — Rescuers called out, “Slowly, slowly,” as they lifted a man inch by inch from between slabs of collapsed concrete Monday in the Turkish province that was the epicenter of a devastating earthquake.

His neck in a brace, the barefoot man was carried on a stretcher as he emerged. Rescuers in Pazarcik in the province of Kahramanmaras held him aloft and ran off with him.

It was among numerous rescue efforts that unfolded as darkness, rain and cold enveloped the region of Turkey and Syria that was rocked by a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude temblor struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. At least 3,400 people were killed, and civilians joined rescuers in desperate efforts across Turkey and Syria.

“Can anyone hear me?” rescuers shouted. In some places around southeast Turkey, survivors could be heard screaming from beneath collapsed buildings.

People crouched to look below a massive sheet of concrete propped at an angle by steel bars. They crawled in and out, trying to reach survivors. Excavating equipment dug through the rubble below.

Elsewhere in Kahramanmaras province, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble. One lay on a stretcher on the snowy ground. Rescuers quieted the throngs of people trying to help so they could hear survivors and find them.

Some emerged safely then waited to hear any word on relatives.

“My two grandchildren, my daughter-in-law, are all inside. They haven’t come out,” said Hasan Birbalta while waiting near a collapsed building in Pazarcik, adding the granddaughter is 2 and the grandson is 6.

Thousands of search-and-rescue personnel, firefighters and medics were working across 10 provinces, along with some 3,500 soldiers. Residents lifted rubble and unearthed people heard screaming from beneath buildings. Aftershocks made rescue efforts more dangerous.

In Adana, about 20 people, some in emergency rescue jackets, used power saws atop the concrete mountain of a collapsed building to carve out space that would let any survivors climb out or be rescued. Later, excavators joined the efforts as bright spotlights illuminated the wreckage.

Turkish military ambulance planes were transporting the injured to Istanbul and Ankara hospitals, the defense ministry said. Rescuers from across Turkey tried to make it to the provinces amid heavy snow and rain.

At a news conference late Monday, four ministers said that because Hatay’s airport had been severely damaged, they had to fly into Adana nearly three hours away.

In Syria, a man held a dead girl in his arms beside a two-story collapsed concrete building as he walked away from the debris. He and a woman set the girl on the floor under covering to protect her from the rain, wrapping her in a large blanket and looking back to the building, overwhelmed.

An official with Turkey’s disaster management authority said 7,840 people had been rescued across 10 provinces. The official, Orhan Tatar, said 5,606 buildings had collapsed.

Tatar said the total area affected was large and places were hard to reach, but that as of late Monday, teams had been directed to all collapsed buildings.

___

Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Chicago contributed.

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