Yoon calls for crowd control system for spontaneous events

SEOUL– President Yoon Suk-yeol instructed the government on Monday to come up with a crowd control system for unorganized and spontaneous events, following the deaths of at least 154 people in a Halloween crowd crush in Seoul.

Yoon’s instructions came during a weekly meeting with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, which on Monday was joined by the interior and health ministers to discuss the government’s overall response to the tragedy in Itaewon last Saturday.

“President Yoon said ahead of the discussions that he feels an indescribable sadness and responsibility as the president responsible for the people’s lives and safety when he thinks of the victims and their families,” deputy presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung told reporters.

“In particular, he once again expressed his grief that so many young people at such a tender age were struck by tragedy before they even had a chance to pursue their dreams,” he said.

Many of the victims were in their 20s as the crowd crush appeared to have happened when a surge of Halloween revelers tried to move through a narrow alley connecting two streets in Itaewon.

“President Yoon stressed the need to come up with a crowd accident prevention safety control system for use during spontaneous group events that, like in this instance, do not have an organizer,” Lee said.

In the case of organized events, organizers are required to draw up safety control measures and have them approved by the relevant local governments and police and firefighting authorities, he explained.

“But in the absence of an organizer, it’s not easy to preemptively implement safety measures,” he said, adding that he expects there to be discussions in the future about allowing local governments to request the minimum safety measures from the police, such as traffic and crowd control, at their own discretion and for the police to enforce emergency control measures if necessary after informing local governments.

Lee said the president also called for thorough assistance for funeral preparations and medical treatment for the injured, as well as a complete investigation into the cause of the accident and transparent disclosure of its outcome.

Yoon further expressed his gratitude to the “heroes,” including citizens, medical workers, firefighters and police officers, who came to the aid of the victims by performing CPR and taking them to hospitals, and to the entire nation sharing in the grief.

Yoon earlier declared a period of national mourning through Saturday and ordered the lowering of flags to half-mast at government offices.

Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, said Yoon decided to suspend his daily morning Q&A sessions with reporters during the mourning period, as his government focuses on dealing with the aftermath of the deadly crowd crush.

Doorstepping Yoon as he arrives for work has become a daily routine, except on days when the president travels outside of the capital.

At a meeting with his aides later Monday, Yoon again instructed them to make utmost efforts to handle the disaster, Kim said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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