South Korea vows to act tough, moves to quell anger over Halloween crush

SEOUL, November 1 (Reuters) - South Korea moved to calm public anger on Tuesday over a Halloween party that killed more than 150 people, most of them young, promising a swift and intensive investigation and calling for tough new security measures to prevent similar thing. disaster.

The death toll from a crush at a crowded Halloween street party on Saturday rose to 156 with 151 injured, 29 of them in serious condition. At least 26 citizens from 14 countries were among the dead.

Tens of thousands of revelers - many in their teens and twenties and dressed in costumes - have packed the narrow streets and alleys of the popular Itaewon district for the first almost unrestricted Halloween celebration in three years.

"As the minister overseeing public safety, I extend my sincere apologies for the incident," Lee said, adding that the government had "unlimited responsibility for the safety of our people" as he addressed a parliamentary session broadcast live on television.

He came under sharp criticism from the public after saying that deploying more police would not prevent the disaster.

National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun earlier on Tuesday admitted crowd control at the scene was "inadequate," noting that police had received numerous reports warning of possible accidents on the eve of the disaster.

"The police will quickly and rigorously carry out intensive inspections and investigations on all aspects without exception to explain the truth of this accident," Yoon said at a press conference.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo also said the ongoing investigation would include whether the response of the government agencies in place was adequate. He pointed to institutional measures for crowd management as the cause of the deadly spike.

President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a week of national mourning, saying the country has too many safety disasters. He said a better response was essential, including improved crowd control.

"We have to come up with concrete security measures to manage crowds, not only in these streets where this great disaster is happening but in other places like stadiums and concert venues where a lot of people gather," he said at a cabinet meeting.

All the victims have been identified and memorial altars have been set up at Seoul city hall and in the Itaewon district, where residents paid their respects.

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