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Amid 26 Foreigners dead in Itaewon, follow-up measures continue

Mourners offer flowers at a joint memorial altar for the victims of a Halloween stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district at Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Mourners offer flowers at a joint memorial altar for the victims of a Halloween stampede in Seoul’s Itaewon district at Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

With at least 26 foreigners found to have died in the Halloween disaster in Itaewon, the government has notified each victim's respective country and continues to implement various follow-up measures for the bereaved families, but there are still many people who have not received enough guidance.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said as of 9 p.m. Sunday, the number of foreign deaths caused by the Itaewon disaster was counted as 26 in 14 different countries. There were five from Iran, four from China, four from Russia, two from the United States, two from Japan, one each from France, Australia, Norway, Austria, Vietnam, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.

The government formed an emergency team at the Korea Immigration Service Seoul branch. The team will identify the identity of foreign casualties, aid the entry of foreign bereaved families and guardians, and provide interpretation services.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has sent officials to the scene of the accident to grasp the situation of foreigners needing assistance.

“We have visited the hospitals where the deceased have been sent, and one civil worker has been matched to each foreign victim to expedite the procedure,” explained the official from the ‘overseas safety protection center’ under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The entry procedure will be shortened for the convenience of the bereaved families. “When bereaved families come from countries requring visas, visas will be issued immediately and Electronic Travel Authorization qualification will also be exempted.”

The list of victims will not be opened to the public, said the official, due privacy issues of the deceased and bereaved families. “The list cannot be disclosed, so the embassies are notifying the countries of the deceased. The nationality of all foreign victims are confirmed, so we have already contacted each embassy in search of the victims’ family.”

Foreigners who are looking for their family or acquaintances in Korea may contact the embassy in Korea, said the official.

“Each embassy is actively cooperating with police stations and related authorities, and the workers will guide you to the respective department.” The foreigners overseas can also contact the service center in each embassy in Korea or call centers under the Foreign Affairs Ministry, he added.

The local district offices are also providing aid to the foreign visitors searching for their friends and family.

“Workers who are fluent with foreign languages are providing interpretation to the foreign visitors and callers. We haven’t exactly counted the precise number of foreign visitors, but many have come by,” said Ji Hwa-young, a Hannam-dong Community Service Center official.

However, there are still many people looking for their family and friends’ whereabouts since the accident.

With confusion over communication channels for those outside of Korea, those looking have taken to social media and contacting local media outlets.



By Lee Jung-youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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