- by theguardian
- 29 Jan 2023
South Korean authorities have opened an investigation into the deaths of more than 150 people, in a crush in a nightlife district in Seoul on Saturday as experts said crowd controls could have reduced the surge that led to the disaster.
The South Korean prime minister, Han Duck-soo, has promised a thorough investigation and authorities said they were focused on reconstructing the chain of events leading up to the surge and were looking at whether anyone may have been responsible for triggering the crush.
On Monday afternoon, dozens of crime scene investigators and forensics officers descended on to the rubbish-strewn alleys. which were eerily quiet with many shops and cafes closed.
Earlier in the day, people laid white chrysanthemums, drinks and candles at a small makeshift altar off an exit of the Itaewon subway station, a few steps away from the site of the crush. Another memorial for the victims was set up at Seoul cityhall plaza, with others set up across the country.
Calls for accountability have grown in the press and online after witnesses reported seeing a relatively small number of police on the streets in relation to the size of the crowds.
Police said at a briefing on Monday they had deployed 137 officers to the event, pointing out that number was significantly higher than previous years. But local reports said most police deployed were focused on drug use and traffic control, rather than crowd control.
Hong Ki-hyeon, a senior official with the national police agency, acknowledged the problem during a news conference on Monday, saying police did not have an established way to deal with such gatherings.
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