Integrated disaster communication network inactive during Itaewon crush

SEOUL– An integrated communication network for public safety and disaster prevention was inactive on the night of the deadly crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district and investigators will look into why the network was inoperative, senior officials said Friday.

South Korea completed building the round-the-clock network last year, allowing police, fire and local governments to have simultaneous interagency communications to cut emergency response times. The network was built in the wake of the 2014 ferry sinking that killed 304 people.

“An investigation should be conducted on the fact that the disaster communication network was not effectively used in this disaster situation,” Bang Moon-kyu, minister for government policy coordination, told reporters.

Kim Sung-ho, a senior interior ministry official in charge of disaster management, also confirmed that interagency communication using the network was inoperative during the Itaewon crush.

“In fact, if you press the button, all the institutions in the call group can be connected and make calls, but this time that part didn’t work well,” Kim told reporters.

Authorities are facing mounting criticism over a lack of crowd control hours before the tragedy that killed at least 156 people.

A total of 191 people were injured with 33 of them left in serious condition, according to the government’s latest figures.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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