Fears Australians caught up in South Korea stampede

Australians in Seoul have been urged to contact their families, after a deadly stampede.

Australians in Seoul have been urged to contact their families, after a deadly stampede. Photo: Getty

The federal government is scrambling to find out if any Australians were killed or injured in a stampede that has left more than 150 people dead in South Korea.

The disaster happened as a huge crowd celebrating Halloween on Saturday night surged into an alley in a nightlife area, which is popular amongst young people, expatriates and travellers, in the capital Seoul.

“Our sincere condolences for all affected by this terrible tragedy,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted on Sunday.

Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Catherine Raper joined Mr Albanese in conveying Australia’s condolences to the South Korean government, describing the incident as “tragic”.

The Australian embassy in Seoul is urgently making enquiries with local authorities to find out if any Australians were involved.

“We ask all Australians in Seoul to check in with friends and family to let them know your whereabouts,” Ms Raper tweeted.

More than 80 people were injured, many seriously, in the melee around 10.30pm in Seoul’s Itaewon district.

Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station, said many of the victims were women in their twenties, according to Reuters.

Up to 19 foreigners were among the dead, including citizens of China, Iran, Uzbekistan and Norway.

It was the first Halloween event in Seoul in three years after the country lifted COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing.

Many of the partygoers were wearing masks and Halloween costumes. Some witnesses said the crowd had become increasingly unruly as the night wore on.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of national mourning.

The disaster is among the country’s deadliest since a 2014 ferry sinking that killed 304 people, mainly high school students.

Australians concerned about the welfare of loved ones in Seoul can call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135. Those outside Australia can call +61 2 6261 3305.

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