Australian survivor of Itaewon stampede looks for body of friend

SEOUL– An Australian national who survived a deadly stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district the previous day desperately searched for the body of his Australian friend on Sunday.

The 23-year-old female victim, whose identity was withheld, is believed to be one of 19 foreign nationals who died in a crush in a narrow downhill alley in the famous nightlife district on Saturday night after tens of thousands of people visited the area for Halloween.

At least 151 people were killed and 82 others were injured, according to local authorities. The foreigners killed also include those from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.

“I don’t know where she is … Next week’s her birthday,” Nathan Taverniti told Yonhap News Agency in front of Soonchunhyang University Hospital, where the bodies of some of the victims are located.

Taverniti said he and the victim were visiting South Korea for vacation and were together at the Itaewon alley at the time of the tragic accident.

“I just can’t believe it. I was in the front of where it happened,” Taverniti said as he wiped away tears. “All I could see was a wall of people … it was impossible (to save her).”

After crawling outside of the pile of people, the Australian survivor said he tried to pull people out and called out for help.

“People need to know how bad it was and how little help there was,” he said. “Nobody was paying attention.”

Taverniti said after seeing the body of his friend being taken away on a stretcher, he has since not been able to hear any information on the whereabouts of her body.

“I can’t find any info, phone number for missing people …. the (Australian) consulate doesn’t know where she is,” he said, adding that his friend was planning to go back to Australia on Thursday.

“Her family’s in Australia, so I’m the guardian, but they wouldn’t let me see her,” he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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