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'Devastated' holidaymaker reveals how he watched his friend get crushed to death in 'wall of people' in Seoul disaster
31 October 2022, 08:40
A young holidaymaker has revealed how he watched his friends get crushed to death in a "wall of people" during the Seoul disaster.
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The Australian and his friends were caught up in the Halloween crush, which took the lives of over 150 people in Seoul, South Korea over the weekend.
Nathan Taverniti said two of his friends survived but one had died.
He is now acting as guardian for the body of the dead woman, who had been 12 days away from her 24th birthday.
"I was there when she said she couldn't breathe and I grabbed one of my friend's hands," he said in a TikTok video.
"Two of them are in critical conditions and one of them has unfortunately passed away.
"There was no stampede, it was a slow and agonising crush."
He had previously told a South Korean newspaper: "All I could see was a wall of people … it was impossible [to save her]."
Mr Taverniti blamed the "lack of planning, police force and emergency services" for the incident, adding that no one was willing to help.
"I watched as people filmed and sang and laughed while my friends were dying along with many other people," he said.
"I was there trying to pull people out because there was not enough police officers and nobody was doing anything to make the crowd stop."
He said he waited 30 minutes for police to arrive where he was and then it took a further hour for more police to arrive.
"I am sad, I am devastated, this situation could have so easily been avoided but nobody would listen," Mr Taverniti went on to say.
He captioned the video: "RIP - I was there at Itaewon as my friends were crushed - this is their story - people need to know what happened - the people that were abandoned by the government."
The South Korean government eased Covid-19 restrictions in recent months and this was the first big chance to get out and party for many young people.
While Halloween is not a traditional holiday in South Korea, where children rarely go trick-or-treating, it is still a major attraction for young adults, and costume parties at bars and clubs have become hugely popular in recent years.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has promised a "thorough investigation" into the incident.
"The government will undertake a thorough investigation into what caused this accident and do its best to make necessary institutional changes so that such an accident is not repeated," he said.