'I went to the loo, came out to see horror unfolding', Seoul Halloween crush witness says

A Taiwanese tourist witnesses the Seoul Halloween stampede 'hell' following bathroom visit after escaping from 'frighteningly' massive crowds.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A Taiwanese model says a last-minute decision to leave the site of Saturday (Oct 29)'s deadly Halloween stampede in Seoul because of the "frightening" size of the crowd, probably saved her life.

Angel Chiu was at the popular Itaewon district where more than 150 people perished in a horrific crush over the weekend just minutes before the stampede began.

The model, who was at the same venue 24 hours earlier and experienced a similarly heaving crowd, said she was so scared by the sheer size of the Saturday night gathering, which was "three times" bigger, that she decided to leave.

While retreating from the frightening scene, Chiu went to use the bathroom in a nearby cafe and as she left, she witnessed the full horror of the tragedy unfold from a windowed walkway overlooking the crush.

In an Instagram video post on Monday, Chiu described what she saw over-looking the carnage as being "like a scene from a disaster movie".

So far, the stampede has claimed the lives of 156 people, mostly young women. More than 140 others were injured, the local authorities said.

Panicked conversations and questions between people as the stampede took place.

"It was so horrible. I thought I was watching a movie, a disaster movie... I saw hundreds of police officers and first responders, the main streets filled with fire engines and ambulances. Dozens of people had their clothes removed and were receiving CPR," she said.

"Because this is such a developed country, it never occurred to me that this could ever happen. Itaewon is a place where large gatherings have taken place every year since the Korean war, I thought it might have been a gas poisoning or something.

"Many people, like me, didn't know exactly what was happening because there was no internet in the area. There were still people arriving by subway, pouring out of the station. We found it so difficult to leave because there were people everywhere," she said.

"Because this is such a developed country, it never occurred to me that this could ever happen," says the model.

"It was like heaven and hell. Outside there were unconscious people receiving first aid and people close-by who were indoors were still happily dancing and enjoying their food," the model added.

South Korean authorities have confirmed the identities of all victims, including 26 foreigners from 14 countries. Four of them were from China.

ALSO READ: We were just trying to stay alive: Singaporean separated from friends amid Itaewon crowd crush

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.