At least 153 people have been killed and 82 injured after being crushed by a crowd during the Halloween festival in South Korea, authorities in South Korea said, as the death toll continues to rise.
Most of the victims are in their 20s, according to the National Fire Agency. ABC News confirmed that two Americans were among the 19 foreign nationals who died.
Ann Gaske, a University of Kentucky student, was among the victims, school President Eli Cappilotto said in a statement Sunday.
“Anne, a nursing junior from Northern Kentucky, is studying in South Korea this semester with a study abroad program. We also have two other students and a faculty member this semester. Contact her,” Cappellotto said. done and they are safe”. .
“We are in touch with Anne’s family and will provide whatever support we can — now and in the coming days — as they cope with this unspeakable loss,” he added. “We will be there for those in our community who knew and loved Ann. We also have around 80 students from South Korea in the UK — members of our community — who need our help. will.”
Steven Blassey, 20, from Georgia, was also identified as one of the victims.
“The world is a darker place without Steven,” his father, Steve Blassey, told ABC News.
“Last night we received the call no parent should receive. Our beloved son Steven died in a horrific incident in South Korea where he was studying abroad for a semester,” Steve Blassey said in a statement. was
Kennesaw State University, where Steven Blassey was a student, also released a statement, saying he was an international business major and one of 11 students from the university in South Korea who received a study abroad program. As part of KSU said other students are safe.
“On behalf of the entire Kennesaw State community, our thoughts and prayers go out to Steven’s family and friends as they mourn this unimaginable loss,” said President Kathy Schweig. “We have been in contact with Steven’s family and have offered them all available university resources.”
More deaths are expected in the crash, officials said in an earlier update, putting the death toll at 120 and 100 injured.
Many of the victims were transported to local hospitals for cardiac arrest after emergency CPR, the agency said.
The killings took place in the Etown leisure district on Saturday night, when a large crowd moved through the area’s narrow streets, according to witnesses.
Officials said the incident was first reported around 10:20 p.m. local time. Rescue crews took time to respond due to overcrowding.
More than 100,000 people gathered for Halloween parties in the area, famous for its nightclubs. The area has bars along the narrow back streets that line the main road. According to eyewitnesses, people got stuck in these curved, slanted streets.
Video from the scene showed a major emergency in the district and the police response as a crowd of people, some in costume, were still gathered at the scene. CPR can be seen in the streets.
Officials said that the reason for the increase in crowd is being investigated.
‘It’s been so scary’
Janelle Storey, an American who has lived in South Korea since 2016, told ABC News that the area is usually crowded, especially on Halloween. But this was “another level”.
“This is the first time since the pandemic that we’ve actually been able to just go outside,” he said. “Itaewon is known for being really crowded, but this was just a level I’ve never seen before.”
Kahani and a friend were bar hopping when he started filming the crowd around 10:30 p.m., he said.
“That’s when I saw this crowd of people in front of me like running and pushing and rushing and then screaming and panicking,” she said. “We were just kind of standing there and slowly. And then it happened. Bam! This wall of people came at us.”
“I stopped filming because it got too scary,” she continued.
The story said he heard other passers-by say that people were fainting. As they tried to make their way to the subway station, they saw fire trucks, ambulances and police cars before they made it home safely.
“I can’t believe it happened. I don’t know how,” she said. “It just feels like a freak incident.”
The United States offered its support to South Korea in the wake of the tragedy.
White House national security adviser Jack Sullivan said the reports coming out of Seoul were heartbreaking. said on Twitter. “We are thinking of all those who lost loved ones and hope for a speedy recovery for those injured. The United States stands ready to provide all assistance to the Republic of Korea.”
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden “expressed their deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul.”
“We sympathize with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured,” the president said in a statement. “The alliance between our two countries has never been more dynamic or more important — and the ties between our peoples are stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea at this tragic time.”
ABC News’ Nicholas Cerrone contributed to this report.