• 1440 Daily Digest

Seoul Officers Apologize

South Korean police officials apologized for the weekend stampede in Seoul that left at least 156 people dead and hundreds more injured, accepting a “heavy responsibility” and vowing to investigate the police response.

The statement comes as new details reveal police received 11 calls before the incident and dispatched officers to the site four times, prompting speculation as to whether the disaster could have been prevented. The incident happened Saturday night as crowds gathered in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district, to celebrate Halloween for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Seoul police said the first call came at 6:34 p.m. local time, several hours before the deadly crush.

A total of 137 officers, primarily focused on crime, were present at the scene of the 100,000 partygoers. In comparison, about 6,500 officers were present at a protest with 25,000 people during the same timeframe. South Korea does not have specific procedures for handling crowd surges at unorganized events.

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