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Pope prays for those killed in Halloween event

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Pope Francis is expressing sadness for the more than 150 people killed at a Halloween street party in South Korea’s capital Seoul, as the country’s Catholic bishops call for a full investigation into the causes.

October 31, 2022

Mourners pay their respects near the scene of a stampede in Seoul


By Alastair Wanklyn & Devin Watkins
At least 153 people have died and 82 others are injured after being run over and stomped on during a Halloween street party in Seoul, most of whom were young people who died of suffocation.

Speaking during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the tragedy in the South Korean capital.

“Let us pray to the risen Lord for all those – mostly young people – who died tragically last night in Seoul in a sudden crush of crowds.”

“Preventable” tragedy
Video posted to social media from Saturday night’s tragedy showed people screaming within a crowd.

A few people were seen clinging to the walls, trying to get out of the crush. When some people fell, others stepped on it.

The disaster was not apparent at first. Loud music continued to play as bodies lay in the road. It happened in the Itaewon nightclub district in Seoul. The victims were mostly young people.

The local fire department chief said the victims attended a Halloween gathering.

It’s unclear why the crash happened, but eyewitnesses said there was little to no crowd control. The revelers kept arriving and pushing through the already packed streets.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called it “a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened”. He said South Koreans would mark a week of mourning.

Bishops call to investigate
In a written statement, the Korea Catholic Bishops’ Conference said South Koreans must “break the cycle of injustice and irresponsibility that has become common practice in this society.”

“To do this, we must first be true to our respective roles,” the Bishops said. “Authorities must thoroughly examine the cause and process of this tragedy, and ensure that irresponsibility and forgetfulness do not happen again.”

The bishops added that it is important to ensure that there are “no more sacrifices” from people, especially young people.

“Human life and dignity are the most precious values, and nothing in our society can take precedence over them.”

The death toll is the worst in South Korea since the sinking of an overloaded ferry eight years ago.

In this disaster, 304 people died, including many schoolchildren. But this has led to a tightening of shipping regulations.–Vatican News