A stampede in central Seoul in South Korea this weekend claimed the lives of at least five international students in Seoul.
The incident occurred on October 29 at the city’s popular nightlife district of Itaewon, where panic broke out during an event, leading to the deaths of at least 154 people. Dozens more were injured.
The first major Halloween celebration since most Covid-19 restrictions were lifted was held on Saturday night in the district, with tens of thousands of people wearing elaborate Halloween costumes.
In the city’s annual Halloween festivities, thousands of people crammed into a narrow alleyway, which caused a deadly crush.
There has been confirmation that 26 foreign nationals have died, including a number of students studying abroad.
The 26 foreign victims include five Iranians, four Chinese and four Russians, two Americans, two Japanese, and one each from France, Australia, Norway, Austria, Vietnam, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.
Among the dead was University of Kentucky nursing student Anne Gieske, who was studying in Seoul for the autumn semester.
The family has been “devastated and heartbroken” by the loss of their daughter, according to her father, Dan, who described her as a “bright light, loved by all”.
Among the victims of the disaster was Steven Blesi, a 20-year-old student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, according to his father Steve.
“Thank you for the outpouring of love. We need time to grieve”
On Sunday, Mr Blesi Sr tweeted that he just received confirmation that his son had died. “Thank you for the outpouring of love. We need time to grieve,” he wrote.
“[My son] was adventurous and loving,” he told The New York Times. “That’s the only way I know how to describe him. And the loss is just unbearable.”
A tribute has also been paid to Grace Rached, 23, a film production assistant from Sydney who died while two of her friends remain in intensive care.
Yonsei University also confirmed the loss of two international students in its Korean language institute and expressed its deepest condolences to all the victims and their families.
A 20-year-old college student from Sandnes, western Norway, was among them.
Stine Roalkvam Evensen, a Norwegian student at the University of Stavanger who was studying Korean at Yonsei University, was identified as the victim.
The confirmation of her death was described by her family as “an unreal shock”, one that is “hard to believe is true”.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that her father, who had been in contact with his daughter just hours before the tragedy, told them that the Halloween celebrations also celebrated the end of Covid-19 restrictions in Seoul.
“They could finally all be together without face mask restrictions,” Erik Evensen told NRK.
Stine’s adventurous side brought her to South Korea, he mother added. She was a very happy person with a great interest in travel, other cultures and languages, she said of her daughter.