The month of October, which was supposed to be a fun month to celebrate Halloween, ended up being a deadly month that resulted in many tragic deaths.

In Indonesia, a stamplede caused the death of 125 people, in India a rope bridge broke and killed 130 people, and in Itaewon, a Halloween celebration turned into tragedy as 156 people were killed in a crowd crush.

A Summary of the Tragedy

On 29 October in the Itaewon area of South Korea, at least 156 people were killed when a crowd crush occurred. The popular tourist area was previously known as a bustling place with restaurants, bars, and clubs that expatriates and locals flocked to. In recent years, it has been the go-to place for Halloween celebrations in the country.

As many as 100,000 people flocked to the area on Saturday in the first major celebration since the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. Itaewon is part of Yongsan, one of the capital’s 25 districts and many young people decked out in Halloween costumes had flocked to the district's small and winding streets to visit the clubs and bars there.

There have been several factors that have been blamed for the disaster, including authorities admitting to a lack of crowd control measures.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took over the presidency this year personally visited the site on Monday to pay tribute to the victims and called on his cabinet to take heavy responsibility. However, there have been reports that he is in part to blame for the incident owing to the fact that he requires approximately 700 police officers to cover his daily commute to work in his office in Yongsan.

The relocation of the presidential office this year from its previous location is rumoured to be due to the influence of a shaman, or a geomancer who advised him to do so.

Here's What Happened

There is a difference in what happened between the two fatal events as what happened at Itaewon was a crowd crush and not a stampede unlike the incident in Indonesia as people were not running en masse.

A narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel –– that was downhill and had a length of approximately 20 metres and 6 metres wide –– became flooded with people. This back alley links a busy restaurant district with a main street. Nearby is the entrance to the Itaewon subway station.

We spoke to a South Korean source who says that the alley is so small that it doesn’t even have a proper name. She commented, “There was a flurry of panic when the news broke out. HR representatives from the company I work at contacted me four times until I answered them to make sure that I was safe. I never realised that people can be killed by crowds. Everyone in our country is so shocked by the news. Such a disaster must never happen again.”

Here's a simulation of what happened:
@noelie.k Simulation MBC infos #itaewon #coree #halloween ♬ son original - Love

Around 10.00 pm, there was bedlam as the crowd started surging in from both directions and as people lost their footing on the slope, there was a domino effect as people fell, knocked each other down, and piled on top of each other. People even started scaling the building to try to escape but many were squeezed against each other to the point that they couldn’t breathe.

Bystanders desperately tried to help paramedics to give CPR to the victims and there are video clips of rescuers trying to drag people out from a crowd that was packed together.

What to Do If You Find Yourself in One

While we all hope and pray that there will never be such a scene in Malaysia, it doesn’t hurt to stay aware and to know what to do should you ever find yourself in such a situation.

For instance, there are many upcoming concerts being held in Malaysia where many people gather so it always pays to be informed. On 31 October, 11 people were killed during a crush at a concert in Kinshasa, at the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Back in 2015, more than 2400 people died in Mecca, so any Malaysian pilgrims carrying out their religious duties should also take precautions.

According to the Washington Post, there are several tips to follow:

If you already know that you’re going to be part of a crowd, wear sensible shoes like sneakers.

Be aware of all the exits, not just those that are nearest to you as it may be too crowded to use. If you find yourself unable to move independently but rather, are being carried by the crowd ––– make sure to exit as quick as you can through an escape route or where the crowd is thinnest.

If you are unable to extricate yourself, make sure to go with the flow instead. Make sure not to push.

Stand with your feet apart with one foot in front of the other and knees slightly bent. Protect your chest by keeping your hands up rather than pinned to your side. Use your dominant hand to grab your other forearm to create a shield-like posture, that makes use of your elbows to brace against other bodies. You will be able to create a breathing zone for yourself in this way.

Don’t drop it to the ground if you can as this may cause others to trip.

Shorter people are at higher risk of restricted oxygen compared to tall people. Don’t drag them by the arm, but rather, carry them on your shoulders and let them wrap their legs around your waist as you hold them.

Stay calm and conserve your oxygen and energy.

Don’t pick up anything if you drop it as you most probably won’t be able to get back up. But if you trip, get into fetal position on your left side and protect your head. If someone else falls and it’s safe for you to help them, do so as it will prevent the domino effect.

Move towards the edge of the crowd if you can rather than against it, say in the event that you’re in the Rock Zone of a concert as people near the stage or barriers are those more likely to be crushed.

Here’s also a quick visualisation on how to perform CPR:

Image credit:, Google Maps, @kitiara_dc, @hyunsuinseoul, @KasulisK, @SusieKxoxo,