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11 calls said ‘people are being crushed’ at Itaewon; 4 dispatches made

 

Police vehicles and ambulances are seen at Itaewon on Saturday night where a deadly crowd crush occurred. (Yonhap)
Police vehicles and ambulances are seen at Itaewon on Saturday night where a deadly crowd crush occurred. (Yonhap)

On the night of the Itaewon disaster on Saturday, 11 emergency calls were made to police that directly mentioned that people were being hurt or crushed, but the police were only dispatched to the scene a total of four times, police records show.

While the police revealed the transcripts of those 11 calls, it was found later that a total of 79 emergency calls were made from the Itaewon area from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The exact content of those calls has not yet been identified.

Of the 11 emergency calls that have been revealed to the public, only one was categorized as “code 0,” requiring officers to be dispatched to the scene as quick as possible. The other seven were “code 1,” which calls for cases to be prioritized, but there were only four confirmed dispatches to the scene that night.

Police revealed the first of the 11 emergency calls, which was made at 6:34 p.m. and directly mentioned the risk that people “may be crushed to death,” was regarded as a routine complaint for inconvenience that posed no immediate danger.

Records show that there were zero calls made to 119 -- a line for emergency and rescue equivalent to 911 in the US -- prior to the disaster. The first call received by the 119 emergency operations center was at 10:15 p.m., the presumed time of the disaster. The first team of emergency rescuers arrived at the scene 14 minutes later.



By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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