Last year's deadly crowd crush at Itaewon, Seoul claimed more than lives. Recent data showed 1,316 firemen dispatched at the scene are still suffering from the psychological impact of the incident.
According to the National Fire Agency data revealed by Rep. Oh Young-hwan of the main opposition Democratic Party, the rescue workers are receiving treatment for various side effects with relation to the tragedy.
The deadly incident occurred Oct. 29, 2022 when the crowd became concentrated in a small alleyway leading to the streets, resulting in 159 deaths and 196 injuries. Most of the victims were young people out to enjoy the first Halloween festivities at the popular nightlife district in the post-COVID 19 era.
“Trauma is not something that can be resolved in a short period of time. Plenty of rest and treatment is necessary,” Oh, a former fireman, was quoted as saying by local media.
He stressed that the fire authorities need to hire more staff, in order to ensure sufficient time for recovery for the traumatized rescue workers.
South Korea is currently constructing a state-run hospital devoted to physical and psychological treatment of firefighters, slated for opening in 2025. The plan was greenlit during the previous administration.
The Itaewon disaster was the deadliest crowd crush in South Korean history. Marking the one-year anniversary of the incident, the bereaved families of the victims recently announced that a set of memorials will be installed at the accident site and unveiled to the public on Oct. 26.
The bereaved families and the victims are currently calling for enactment of the bill that will launch a special investigation into Itaewon tragedy, currently pending at the National Assembly.
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