Seoul mayor to discuss designating entire capital as special disaster zone following stampede tragedy

SEOUL– Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said Sunday he will discuss with the central government on designating the entire capital area as a special disaster zone eligible for various support schemes following a deadly crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district that killed over 150 people.

Oh announced the plan during a visit to the site of the accident in central Seoul, where he arrived after cutting short his European trip in the wake of the tragic accident that occurred during late-night Halloween celebrations a day earlier.

“We will have to discuss further, but we should be able to produce ways to support even non-Seoul residents when the entire capital is designated as a special disaster zone,” Oh said.

Earlier in the day, President Yoon Suk-yeol designated Seoul’s central ward of Yongsan, where Itaewon is located, as a special disaster zone entitled to financial and other support from the central government.
Oh vowed to do everything in dealing with the aftermath, and helping the victims and their families cope with the tragic accident, including support for funeral procedures.

“I pray for the souls of the deceased who have passed away. I have no words to say to the deceased and the injured,” Oh told reporters upon arriving at Incheon International Airport.

“Handling the aftermath is very important. I will make sure there will be no inconveniences with the funeral procedures and do my best so that those who’ve been injured won’t experience any difficulties in the treatment and recovery,” he said.

Oh expressed deep condolences to the family members of the deceased victims, many of whom were in their 20s.

“It is terrible that many young people have lost their lives in the accident,” Oh said. “I don’t know how to console the parents who have lost their children. I express my deepest condolences to them.”

Oh had been on an 11-day trip since Oct. 21 that took him to major cities in France, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands for visits to key city development sites and a global meeting of Olympic host cities.

While in Rotterdam, Oh was briefed over the phone by the chief of Seoul’s fire department on the Itaewon accident and decided to cut his trip short and return home.

He also instructed his city officials over the phone to set up an emergency headquarters to deal with the aftermath and do their best in handling the case swiftly, according to his office.

Oh was initially set to return Monday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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