South Korea police chief says crowd surge response was ‘inadequate’

SEOUL: South Korea’s police chief stated Tuesday that officers had acquired a number of pressing stories of hazard forward of a lethal crowd crush at a Halloween occasion however their dealing with of them was “inadequate”.
At least 156 largely younger folks had been killed, and scores extra injured, in a lethal crowd surge late Saturday on the first post-pandemic Halloween celebration in Seoul’s common Itaewon nightlife district.
An estimated 100,000 folks had flocked to the world, however as a result of it was not an “official” occasion with a delegated organiser, neither the police nor native authorities had been actively managing the gang.
“There had been a number of stories to the police indicating the seriousness on the web site simply earlier than the accident occurred,” nationwide police chief Yoon Hee-keun stated.
Police knew “a big crowd had gathered even earlier than the accident occurred, urgently indicating the hazard,” he stated, acknowledging the way in which this data was dealt with had been “inadequate”.
South Korea is usually robust on crowd management, with protest rallies typically so closely policed that officers can outnumber members.
But within the case of the Itaewon Halloween festivities, there was no designated occasion organiser, with folks flocking to the world to attend occasions held by particular person bars, golf equipment and eating places.
Police stated they’d deployed 137 officers to Itaewon for Halloween — however 6,500 officers had been current at a protest throughout city that was solely attended by about 25,000 folks, native stories stated.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol stated Tuesday the nation wanted to urgently enhance its system for managing massive crowds within the wake of the catastrophe.
“The security of the folks is essential, whether or not or not there may be an occasion organiser,” he instructed a cupboard assembly.
He referred to as for the nation to develop “cutting-edge digital capabilities” to enhance crowd administration — however critics declare such instruments exist already and weren’t deployed in Itaewon.
Seoul’s City Hall has a real-time crowd monitoring system that makes use of cell phone knowledge to foretell crowd dimension, however it was not employed Saturday evening, native media reported.
Itaewon’s district authorities additionally didn’t deploy any security patrols, with officers saying the Halloween occasion was thought-about “a phenomenon” somewhat than “a pageant”, which might have required an official plan for crowd management.
On the evening, tens of hundreds of individuals thronged a slim alleyway, with eye-witnesses describing how, with no police or crowd management in sight, confused partygoers pushed and shoved, crushing these trapped within the lane.
Analysts say this was simply avoidable, even with solely a small variety of cops.
“Good, secure crowd administration just isn’t concerning the ratio, however concerning the crowd technique — for secure crowd capability, circulate, density,” stated G. Keith Still, a crowd science professor on the University of Suffolk.
South Korean professional Lee Young-ju stated that if native police knew they might be short-handed, they may have sought assist from native authorities and even residents or store homeowners.
“It’s not simply the numbers,” Lee, a professor from the Department of Fire and Disaster on the University of Seoul, instructed AFP.
“The query is, how did they handle with the restricted quantity (of police) and what sort of measures did they take to make up for it.”