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(LEAD) Ruling party vows to improve nat'l safety net following Itaewon tragedy

All News 14:46 October 31, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS DP leader's comments, PPP and DP's visit to mourning altars in bottom 4 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- The ruling People Power Party (PPP) vowed Friday to double check and improve safety infrastructure after more than 150 people were killed in a crowd crush in Seoul over the weekend.

The tragedy happened Saturday night when a massive crowd of Halloween partygoers packed a narrow 3.2-meter-wide alley in Seoul's entertainment district of Itaewon and some of them fell over.

At least 154 people were killed, and 33 others remain in serious condition.

"It is the responsibility of the government and the political circle now to come up with measures to prevent similar accidents from happening ever again," PPP chief Chung Jin-suk said, vowing to find ways to improve the country's safety infrastructure to the level of a developed nation and secure proper budget for the work.

Chung also called on people to refrain from stigmatizing or delivering hate comments on victims, and police officers and firefighters who were at the scene, saying it is time to "mourn."

"Please wait and see how the government handles the accident, find out the cause and devise support measures with mature civic consciousness," Chung said.

The ruling People Power Party interim chief Chung Jin-suk (C) is in deep thought with his eyes closed at a party meeting held at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Oct. 31, 2022, two days after a deadly crowd crush took place in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

The ruling People Power Party interim chief Chung Jin-suk (C) is in deep thought with his eyes closed at a party meeting held at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Oct. 31, 2022, two days after a deadly crowd crush took place in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Supreme Council members of the main opposition Democratic Party pay a silent tribute to the victims of the deadly crowd crush in Itaewon in central Seoul during a party meeting held at the National Assembly on Oct. 31, 2022. (Yonhap)

Supreme Council members of the main opposition Democratic Party pay a silent tribute to the victims of the deadly crowd crush in Itaewon in central Seoul during a party meeting held at the National Assembly on Oct. 31, 2022. (Yonhap)

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) also said dealing with the aftermath of the accident and mourning are the top priorities at the moment, promising to cooperate with the ruling bloc to overcome the accident.

"We will work hard with hope that people suffering from the tragedy can heal up fast and restore their mental peace," DP leader Lee Jae-myung said.

Lee called on the government to put in all-out efforts to cope with the tragedy without attempting to evade responsibility, apparently referring to remarks made by the interior minister.

Minister Lee Sang-min has come under criticism after he said in a government briefing that this year's Halloween crowd in Itaewon was not "worryingly large" compared with previous years and the police force was scattered due to riots and demonstrations across the capital on the same day.

DP floor leader Park Hong-geun also said many believe it was a man-made disaster and there should be an investigation into why it happened and whether necessary safety measures were taken.

On Friday, leadership of the ruling and main opposition parties visited mourning altars for the victims set up at Seoul Plaza in central Seoul and Itaewon Plaza, located near the site of the accident.

nyway@yna.co.kr
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