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Itaewon crowd crush: Senior officials are innocent says report

Itaewon crowd crush: Senior officials are innocent says report

Itaewon crowd crush: Senior officials are innocent says report

Senior officials are innocent in the Itaewon crowd says report

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  • The report blamed local municipal and emergency service officials.
  • Lee Jung-min told the report was “cutting off the lizard’s tail to spare the head”.
  • The catastrophic crush killed 159 people.
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A long-awaited investigation on last October’s tragic crowd crush in Seoul has largely exonerated key government officials.

Instead, the report blamed local municipal and emergency service officials for poor preparation and disaster response.

Bereaved father Lee Jung-min told the BBC the report was “cutting off the lizard’s tail to spare the head”.

The catastrophic crush killed 159 people, the most of them were young kids out partying.

They had gathered to Seoul’s Itaewon neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween, a popular nightlife district with tiny streets and alleyways crowded with bars and restaurants. According to some reports, more than 100,000 people were in the vicinity that evening.

Six persons have been arrested on negligence allegations, including the former police head and mayor of the local Yongsan district.

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In addition, investigators have recommended that 17 people be charged, including Seoul’s head of police.

Son Je-hwan, director of a special police division formed to examine the incident, said it was “impossible” to argue that city officials, the national police, and the interior ministry, which supervises South Korea’s police, had acted improperly.

Victims’ families and the South Korean public wanted higher-level officials held accountable. South Korea’s parliament passed a motion in December calling for the ouster of Interior Minister Lee Sang-min.

Mr Lee, whose 28-year-old daughter Lee Joo-young was killed in the crush, told the BBC that he wanted “officials in power” to accept responsibility.

“This implies the interior minister, the chief of the national police, and even the prime minister should take responsibility,” he stated.

His daughter was in Itaewon with her fiancé, who had collapsed but survived, and the couple had planned to marry this year.

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“I am resolved to obtain an apology from people in positions of authority so that my daughter can close her eyes in peace. I told her that Dad would do his best “Mr. Lee stated.

But Mr Son said local government, police, fire department and metro officials were among those who have a “legal responsibility to prevent and respond to disasters”.

According to the inspector, no preventive steps were taken in advance, and necessary actions were not done after emergency cries for assistance were received.

Incorrect evaluations of the situation resulted in information delays and a lack of coordination across organisations, he noted.

“These overlapping failures result in a large number of human casualties,” he stated.
The special investigation unit interviewed 548 persons and examined 180 films from CCTV, social media, and press materials.

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The first call to police occurred at 18:34 local time, three and a half hours before the catastrophic crush, and there were at least ten more emergency calls from the vicinity over the next three and a half hours.

According to records, the police only responded to four of the 11 calls alerting them to dangerous levels of overcrowding.

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Parliament calls for minister to be dismissed over Itaewon crush
Parliament calls for minister to be dismissed over Itaewon crush

Parliament voted to fire the interior minister. Lee Sang-min is under pressure...

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