[이태원 핼러윈 참사]Seoul without control tower… The police also requested the ‘Seoul City’ number from Dasan Call Center.

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A citizen places a wreath at the Itaewon Halloween disaster memorial space near Exit 1 of Itaewon Station in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. / Reporter Han Soo-bin

“I think the Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters must be organized in relation to Yongsan, Seoul (Itaewon disaster), may I know the number?”

At 5:40am on the 30th of last month, about 7 hours after the Halloween disaster in Itaewon, a police officer belonging to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency asked for the number of the ‘Seoul Disaster Security Countermeasures Headquarters’ to the Dasan Call Center in Seoul. Police officer Lee asked, “If this phone call doesn’t work, please give the contact details of the city watchdog as well.”

On the 29th, the day of the Halloween disaster in Itaewon, obtained by Yong Hye-in of the Basic Income Party legislator’s office on the 6th, the complaint report to the 120 Dasan Call Center contained the conversation between the Seoul Office police officer and the Dasan Call Center adviser. It was confirmed that this police officer visited the Seoul Disaster Headquarters to provide support to the families of the disaster victims. Even in a situation where support had to be provided to the victims of the disaster quickly, the police had to request the phone number of the person in charge of the city of Seoul from the Dasan Call Center.

The Dasan Call Center report on the day of the disaster showed the city’s inadequate response after the disaster. According to the Central Security and Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters and the Fire Department, the time when the Seoul Metropolitan Government was notified of the Itaewon disaster was 10:26 pm on the same day. Although the first report was received 11 minutes after the disaster, the counselors at the Dasan Call Center, an organization under the Seoul Metropolitan Government, had to repeat that they had not received any guidance from the city level until dawn the day after the disaster.

It was around 11 o’clock on the day of the disaster when a report of the dire accident was received at the Dasan Call Centre. At 11:43pm on the same day, the reporter said, “Itaewon is in a state of chaos now, and I think you should send a disaster message. Tell me not to go in (Itaewon).” At 1:03 am the next day, a call came in saying, “People seem to keep flocking to Itaewon, so why aren’t there any disaster texts?” The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it was not until 11:56 pm on October 29th, 101 minutes after the disaster, that ‘In front of the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, traffic is currently being controlled due to an emergency accident. It is known that this was the first time a disaster text message was sent, saying, ‘Please avoid the vehicle’, but some citizens of Seoul did not appear to receive this text until the next morning .

After midnight, the Dasan Call Center was flooded with calls to trace the family’s whereabouts. At 0:30 am on the 30th of last month, “I want to know about the Halloween accident. Following the report of “Isn’t my daughter there (I wonder)”, 0:46 am “My daughter can’t be reached”, 0:46 am “My sister said she was going to Itaewon, but she couldn’t contact me”, 1 at 1:31: “My son said he was going to Itaewon, but he didn’t answer the phone. I want to track a location,” reports followed. The reporters asked for the contact details of the task force responsible for the disaster and the identification details of those who were injured. The Dasan Call Center employees only repeated the answer, ‘Sorry, not yet.’

news/2022/11/06/news-p.v1.20221101.ed2c33fdbd8b4540a3787b30b45c1beb_P1.webp" loading="lazy">Citizens mourn the victims at the 'Itaewon Halloween Disaster' memorial space prepared at Exit 1 of Itaewon Station in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on the 31st.  Reporter Lee Joon-heon

Citizens mourn the victims at the ‘Itaewon Halloween Disaster’ memorial space prepared at Exit 1 of Itaewon Station in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on the 31st. Reporter Lee Joon-heon

After 3 am, complaints also asked for a list of the dead. At 3:43 am, the reporter who identified himself as ‘the parent of the person who had an accident in Itaewon’ asked what kind of measures were being taken at the city level, including funeral procedures, saying, “We are going up from the countryside now.” Even at this time, there was nothing Dasan Call Center could answer. Because no alternative had been prepared at city level.

At 3:43 am, a Seoul city official said, “The list has not been received yet” when asked by a consultant at the Dasan Call Center for a list of the dead. Then, when the councilor asked, ‘Are there any reports of people who have been in accidents in the future, or have there been any related procedures like this yet?’, one of the city officials replied, “We are still preparing.”

In fact, it appears that Seoul did not even have a clear disaster control tower in place immediately after the disaster. Dasan Call Center Counselor responded to reporters at 4:37 am and 5:06 am, saying, “There has been no guidance from our side yet.”

Representative Yong Hye-in said, “The city of Seoul has been talking as if it had responded immediately by setting up a Disaster Countermeasures and Security Headquarters right after the accident, but looking at the transcript, it was not possible until age decide where to receive missing persons reports by 6 o’clock the day after the accident The disaster coordination system itself appears to have collapsed, with police asking for contact details of the Seoul Disaster Response Headquarters at 120 Dasan Call Center after 5 am.”

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