The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Here's what causes crowd crushes like the deadly one in Seoul

By Praveena Somasundaram and Joyce Sohyun Lee

30 Oct 2022 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post looks in depth at what happened when the tragic events of Saturday night unfolded in the South Korean capital, and how it compares with other disasters of this kind.

On Saturday - in what appears to be one of the deadliest disasters in South Korea since 2014 - nearly 150 people were killed in a crowd crush during Halloween celebrations in Itaewon, the first large-scale partying for the holiday since the pandemic began.

The event can be described as a crowd crush or surge, but not a stampede, said G. Keith Still, a crowd safety expert and visiting professor of crowd science at the University of Suffolk in England. A crush or surge happens when people are packed together in a confined space and there's movement such as pushing that causes the crowd to fall over. Essentially, Still said, a "domino effect."

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