Fears Australians caught up in deadly Halloween stampede

The federal government is scrambling to find out if any Australians were killed or injured in a stampede that has left at least 149 people dead in South Korea.

The disaster happened as a huge crowd celebrating Halloween on Saturday night surged into an alley in a nightlife area, which is popular amongst young people, expatriates and travellers, in the capital Seoul.

"Our sincere condolences for all affected by this terrible tragedy," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted on Sunday.

Rescue workers and firefighters try to help injured people near the scene of a crowd surge in Seoul.
Almost 150 revellers were killed and dozens of others injured during the city's first Halloween event since Covid-19. Source: AP

Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Catherine Raper joined Mr Albanese in conveying Australia's condolences to the South Korean government, describing the incident as "tragic".

The Australian embassy in Seoul is making urgently making enquiries with local authorities to find out if any Australians were involved.

"We ask all Australians in Seoul to check in with friends and family to let them know your whereabouts," Ms Raper tweeted.

A further 65 people were injured, many seriously, in the melee around 10.30pm in Seoul's Itaewon district.

Thousands of people are packed into the narrow alleyway in Seoul before the stampede.
Photos taken before the stampede show thousands of people packed into the narrow alleyway – some dressed in Halloween costumes. Source: Twitter

It was the first Halloween event in Seoul in three years after the country lifted COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing.

Many of the partygoers were wearing masks and Halloween costumes. Some witnesses said the crowd had become increasingly unruly as the night wore on.

Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station said many of the victims were women in their twenties, according to Reuters.

Two foreigners were among the dead, local authorities said.

Australians concerned about the welfare of loved ones in Seoul can call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135. Those outside Australia can call +61 2 6261 3305.

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