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What We Know About the Deadly Halloween Disaster in Seoul

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(CNN) – Most weekends, the narrow alleys of Itaewon, the neon-lit nightlife district in South Korea’s capital Seoul, are busy with partygoers and tourists.

Now it's the site of one of the country's worst disasters.On Saturday night, tens of thousands of people flooded into the area in central Seoul to celebrate Halloween – but panic erupted as the crowds swelled, with some witnesses saying it became hard to breathe and impossible to move.More than 150 people were killed in the crush, with dozens more injured.

Authorities have now launched an urgent investigation to find out how what was supposed to be a night of celebration went so horribly wrong, as families across the country mourn and search for missing loved ones.Here's what we know so far. Why were the crowds so big?Itaewon has long been a popular place to celebrate Halloween, especially as the holiday became more popular in Asia in recent years.

Some even fly into Seoul from other countries in the region for the festivities.But for the past two years, celebrations were muted by pandemic restrictions on crowd sizes and mask mandates.Saturday night marked the first Halloween since the country lifted these restrictions – lending it particular significance for many eager participants in Seoul, as well as international visitors including foreign residents and tourists.Hotels and ticketed events in the neighborhood had been booked solid in advance, and large crowds were expected.RELATED: Severely Damaged Plane Makes Emergency Landing What happened?Witnesses told CNN there was very little – if any – crowd control before the mass of people turned deadly.Videos and photos posted to social media show people crammed together, standing shoulder to shoulder in the narrow.

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