What is a crowd smash or surge and how it happened in Seoul


On Saturday – in what appears to be one of South Korea’s deadliest disasters since 2014 – nearly 150 people were killed in the crowd during the Halloween celebrations in Itaewon, the first large-scale death since the pandemic began. holiday party.

The event can be described as a crowd squeeze or surge rather than a stampede, said G. Keith Still, a crowd safety expert and visiting professor of crowd science at the University of Suffolk in England. A squeeze or surge occurs when people are crowded in a confined space and there is a movement such as pushing that causes the crowd to fall. Essentially, Steele said, a “domino effect.”

He said the stampede meant people had room to escape, which was not the case in Itaewon. The more people in the crowd, the stronger the crowd crushing force.

“The whole crowd fell together, and if you were in a confined space, people couldn’t get up again,” Steele said.

How human stampedes, like the one near Mecca, turned deadly

In Saturday’s Twitter thread, one person said they were in the crowd describe People “fall down and scream like dominoes”.

“I really feel like I’m going to be crushed to death,” they said in another post tweet“I was breathing through a hole and cried thinking I was dying.” The person continued, near the top of the crowd, crying, “Please help me!” People nearby pulled them away stand up.

During surges, the pressure from above and below the crowd makes it difficult for them to breathe because their lungs need space to expand. It takes about six minutes to enter compression, or restrictive asphyxiation, which can be the cause of death in people who are killed in a crowd squeeze, Steele said.

People also injured limbs and lost consciousness as they struggled to breathe and escape crowds. It takes about 30 seconds of compression to restrict blood flow to the brain, and people in the crowd get dizzy.

Many stressful situations can trigger crowd surges, such as when people push others or trip, Steele said. But these incidents are usually not caused by people who are in distress or forced out of the crowd. These reactions typically occur after the crowd begins to collapse, Steele said.

“People don’t die of panic,” he said. “They panic because they’re dying. So what happens is if the body goes down, if people fall over each other, people struggle to get up and you end up wringing your arms and legs together.”

Similar incidents have occurred around the world, including the death of 130 people at a football stadium in Indonesia this month and 10 deaths last year at the Astronomy World Festival in Texas.

Video timeline shows most of the dead Astroworld victims in an overcrowded area

At Astroworld, most of the dead fans were around the south quadrant of the venue. There are metal barriers around the venue, if crowds gather near them, it will squeeze people and cannot regulate the flow of people.

Norman Badler, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies crowd compression, said that while the squeeze in Itaewon occurred on a single street, the crowds were so dense that movement was so restricted that people couldn’t leave vertically.

Crowds have gathered more frequently over the past year since pandemic restrictions were broadly eased, another factor behind the recent surge. Still, more people are likely to attend events such as Itaewon’s Halloween celebrations because they’ve been confined for so long.

He added that the increase in mass gatherings now allowed underscored the need for crowd management training, which was tapering off when the pandemic hit, as large events are not common.

Martyn Amos, a professor at Northumbria University who studies crowds, said these large events required proper planning and people trained to manage crowds.

“Overall, these events will continue to occur as long as we do not have appropriate crowd management processes in place to anticipate, detect and prevent dangerously high crowd densities,” Amos said in a statement to The Washington Post. .”

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