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Seoul stampede: expert explains why it was so deadly and what to do in a similar situation

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Why was the Seoul stampede so deadly?
Why was the Seoul stampede so deadly? | Photo: Reuters

The seoul stampede, South Koreaclaimed the life of more than 150 peopleincluding the young actor Lee Jihan; In addition, it caused a Mexican to suffer from rhabdomyolysis. An expert from Berlin offers the scientific explanation of why this event was so mortal and analyze to do in case of a similar situation.

What exactly happened in the Itaewon Ward in South Korea?

According to information from Reuters, last Saturday, October 29, there was a street party of Halloween which attracted tens of thousands of people in the Itaewon neighborhood in seoul, South Korea. Despite no planned events, the crowd gathered in a narrow, sloping alley that connects a subway station to a main road.

  • Next, the video that accounts for the moment. Warning: the following audiovisual material contains strong images, discretion is advised.

Sometime after 10pm the street was filled beyond capacity. Reuters put together several testimonies of what happened, who said that the people at the top of the alley lost their balance and fell on the crew from below, beginning tragic seoul stampede.

Why was the Seoul stampede so deadly, according to science?

Medhi Moussaïda research scientist at the Max Plank Institute in Berlin, Germany, who studies crowd dynamics, spoke to the media Business Insider and explained that crowds, like the one in the seoul stampedeare dangerous due to the effect of waves of people.

From his perspective, what happened in Itaewon responds to a basic principle of physicala: “If a group of people becomes dense enough, with six or seven people per square meter, the crowd begins to act like a crowd. fluid“, and the people inside lose the power to control their own movement, just as stated Juliana Velandiaone of the two Mexican women who were injured in the stampede.

In this sense, the crowds they act like waves. A person who is pushed will push his neighbor and so on. The movement is transmitted and emulated to a ripple in the water. As these movements spread, they get bigger and the wave can be too intense, especially if there are obstacles in its way.

“Those waves are quite dangerous because people can be compressed against the walls and also against each other. And every time two waves cross, people can feel the pressure from both sides (…) Most people do not realize the danger”

Medhi Moussaïd

What to do if you get caught in a crowd like this?

The Berlin specialist assures that the crowded events are safe, but if these situations become dangerous, such as the seoul stampedethe main thing is to be aware, and if you feel crowded, it is best to move away to a less dense place to relieve the pressure, because if some people do that, the density is significantly reduced.

In case the crew reach a critical pointthe following is recommended:

  • Do your best to stay on your feet
  • Hold your arms against your rib cage like a boxer to make it easier to breathe
  • Don’t fight the flow of the crowd

If someone falls, as in the seoul stampede, some people will be crushed by the weight of others, that is why it is important to try to keep breathing at all times so as not to pass out. The best scenario is that wave of people go with its flow until it can disperse, so it’s important to go with the flow.

In accordance with Medhi Moussaïdproper planning can reduce risk by ensuring that not too many people gather at once, but in the case of South Korea, the authorities did not expect this amount of people in the streets. “An easy solution would be to let people know that crowds can be dangerous,” he concludes.

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