DP leader says Itaewon tragedy is outcome of gov’t incompetence, carelessness

SEOUL– Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung lashed out at the government Tuesday, claiming the deadly crowd crush that occurred over Halloween weekend is a man-made disaster deriving from the government’s “incompetence and carelessness.”

“It’s clearly a man-made disaster and a disaster that derives from the government’s incompetence and carelessness,” Lee of the main opposition Democratic Party told a general meeting of lawmakers.

The crowd surge that occurred Saturday night has killed at least 156 partygoers, a majority of them in their 20s, who took part in Halloween festivities in Seoul’s entertainment district of Itaewon. The incident marked the country’s worst tragedy since the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster that killed 304 people, mostly high school students.

As South Korea grapples to cope with the aftermath of the tragedy, critics have increasingly been blaming local government authorities and police officials for failing to plan ahead for the first Halloween in three years taking place without a mask mandate.

Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min’s remarks that the Halloween crowd in Itaewon was not “worryingly large” compared with previous years and the police force was scattered due to riots and demonstrations across the capital on the same day drew more criticism from the mourning public.

“No one in this government is saying, ‘I am responsible, I’m sorry for not protecting the people’s lives. They are only talking about criminal responsibility,” Lee said. “It’s the detectives and the prosecutors who measure criminal responsibility. Politicians should hold infinite responsibility for the people.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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