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No Cambodians hurt in S Korean stampede

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The scene following a stampede at a Halloween celebration in Seoul's Itaewon district on October 29. AFP

No Cambodians hurt in S Korean stampede

A senior official from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the Cambodian Ambassador to South Korea confirmed that there were no reports of Cambodians involved in the stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon distract on the night of October 29, which had left more than 150 people dead.

The national fire agency said the death toll from the accident had risen to 151 people, including 19 foreigners, who died in a crowd surge and stampede which happened at about 10pm on October 29.

Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on October 30 that there were no reports of Cambodians involved in the incident.

“As of 9:30, there is no information of any deaths or hospitalisation of any citizen’s of the Kingdom,” he said.

Sour shared his condolences, via social media, with the families who had lost loved ones in the stampede.

The Cambodian embassy is in regular contact with Korean authorities – and the Cambodian community around Seoul – to monitor information related to Cambodians.

Sour added that he prayed that all Cambodians visiting or working in South Korea were safe and had avoided this tragic incident.

He said anyone with information regarding any Cambodian involvement should contact the embassy in Seoul on 010 7510 4324 or 010 8898 8644.

“We will be following the news carefully. Should anyone be concerned about missing friends or relatives, please contact the embassy,” said Chring Botum Rangsay, the Kingdom’s ambassador to South Korea.

Kong Phearum, a Cambodian worker living in South Korea, said that he had visited the scene, but he and friends left before the incident.

“The alley, which crowded, was far too narrow for the number of people who were there. My friends and I left as my friend wanted to use a bathroom. About half an hour later, the crush occurred. The authorities here say they are still investigating the cause of the accident,” he said.

Phearum added that the alley was just 3m wide.

Another Cambodian working in South Korea, Seng Sophal, said he was following the news of the event and was “deeply saddened.”

“I live near 10 of my countrymen. Although the place it happened was well known, we had never visited. We were all shocked when we saw the news, as it reminded me of the Koh Pich bridge stampede of 2010. As a worker here, we pray for a speedy recovery for the injured and may the souls of the departed rest in peace,” he said.

According to a labour ministry report, as of July, about 1.3 million Cambodians work abroad, with nearly 50,000 working in South Korea.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the government would cover the cost of the medical care of the injured and the funerals of the deceased.

“This tragedy should not have happened in the centre ofSeoul, our capital city,” he added.

The disaster took place in Seoul’s Itaewon district, where local reports say up to 100,000 people, mostly teenagers and those in their 20s, celebrated Halloween. It caused congestion in narrow alleys and streets.

Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan fire department, which includes Itaewon district, said on October 30 that among the dead, 97 were women and 54 were men.

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