Halloween Horrors in Iteawon

This past Hallo-weekend was a time to celebrate but ended up being marked as a tragedy and government failure to some. On October 30th in Itaewon, South Korea, a nationally known Halloween celebration ended in a tragic national emergency. As a stunned and grieving South Korea grapples with a tragedy that killed at least 153 people, questions are emerging about how such a disaster could have unfolded.

The Saturday before Halloween, tens of thousands of people were in the streets of the Itaewon neighborhood to celebrate, and the crowd grew so dense that people became trapped and panicked. The density of the crowd caused people to shove one another, causing injuries. Many died because of the pressure extorted from all the bodies which made breathing impossible.

Itaewon in South Korea Image courtesy of Creative Commons

President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol has vowed to implement new measures to prevent similar incidents from happening, saying the government would “conduct emergency inspections not only for Halloween events but also for local festivals and thoroughly manage them so they are conducted in an orderly and safe manner.”

Crowd density can be calculated by the number of people per square meter, roughly a square yard. Younger, smaller people occupy less space than older and larger people, but as a rule things get uncomfortable once you reach five people per square meter. Anything more crowded can become dangerous.

“This tragedy broke my heart,” said freshman Kit Petterson. “The fact that people went out to celebrate, and never made it home is terrifying and we need to prevent more accidents like this.”

The dangers of dense crowds is nothing new. About a year ago, we saw 10 people lose their lives and many others injured in a crowd surge at a Travis Scott concert. People were too tightly packed into the general admission area of his concert and died because of compression asphyxia as well. Crowd safety experts say that the blame should be put on the organizers, not the concertgoers.

Even in Isla Vista, there have been multi-casualty incidents with party goers at UCSB, so you must remember that this can happen even in Santa Barbara, and you must remember to take necessary precautions to protect yourself. When going to a party or concert, you should identify an exit route for each area you are in, and strategically think about where you stand in the crowd. Make sure to stay safe.