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(LEAD) Interior ministry, Seoul city gov't raided over Itaewon crowd crush

All News 15:12 November 17, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with police search; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- A special investigation team on Thursday raided 22 locations, including the interior ministry and the Seoul metropolitan government, in a wide-ranging probe into the bungled response to the deadly Itaewon crowd crush.

The team sent 65 investigators to 12 emergency response-related offices of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, eight such offices inside Seoul City Hall and two offices of Seoul's self-governing police body to seize related evidence.

The searches suggest that the investigation is widening into the interior ministry and the Seoul city government after the investigation team booked seven high-level officials for failing to prevent or promptly respond to the deadly accident.

Of those booked so far, Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan Fire Station, and ex-Yongsan Police Station head Lee Im-jae have been told to show up for questioning Monday, police officials said.

This photo shows the signboard of the special investigation team currently looking into what went wrong in the deadly crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood on Oct. 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

This photo shows the signboard of the special investigation team currently looking into what went wrong in the deadly crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood on Oct. 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

The two were booked for investigation last week on charges of professional negligence resulting in death for the bungled rescue response to the Oct. 29 crowd crush that killed at least 158 people during Halloween celebrations.

Choi was accused of inaction in the face of police requests for joint response on the night of the accident while Lee was suspected of failing to heed internal reports giving prior warnings of a possible safety accident and to take precautionary disaster prevention measures.

Officials said the investigation team has also booked Interior Minister Lee Sang-min on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and dereliction of duties following a recent complaint filed against him by the fire station branch of the broader government employees' labor union.

Youtube

https://youtu.be/qA_D7YzES6w

Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan Fire Station, takes an oath during a meeting of the Seoul Metropolitan Council on Nov. 11, 2022. (Yonhap)

Choi Seong-beom, chief of the Yongsan Fire Station, takes an oath during a meeting of the Seoul Metropolitan Council on Nov. 11, 2022. (Yonhap)

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