Mexican survivor of Seoul crowd crush feared she’d die in Itaewon


Juliana Velandia Santaella took a photograph of younger girls dressed up as bananas, a sizzling canine and french fries on the streets of Itaewon at 10:08 p.m. Saturday night time. Then she determined to go dwelling, descending a good alleyway the place she would narrowly escape her loss of life.

The 23-year-old medical pupil from Mexico started to really feel squeezed by the crowd, which was slowly pushing a whole bunch downhill in an alley, the middle of an accident that would go away at the least 154 folks useless and 149 harm. Her accidents, which despatched her to an emergency room and are nonetheless debilitating, present what can occur throughout a harmful crowd crush.

Velandia was separated from her good friend, 21-year-old Carolina Cano of Mexico, and began to really feel the load of different folks’s our bodies crushing her. “At some point, my feet weren’t even touching the ground anymore,” she mentioned. “There was an unconscious guy on top of me, which was affecting my breathing.”

Velandia targeted on taking shallow breaths via her mouth as her lungs started to really feel like they have been being flattened. People round her have been screaming for assist or calling for the police, she mentioned, however then they progressively fell silent as their our bodies grew limp above and under her. Stuck in a pile of folks, she recalled, solely her neck may freely transfer as the remainder of her physique was restrained.

“I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to be next.’ I really thought I was going to die,” she mentioned. “I was completely paralyzed. At some point, I couldn’t feel my legs. I couldn’t even move my toes.”

She was caught like that, unable to really feel components of her physique, till a younger man standing on an elevated ledge grabbed her arms and ripped her from the crowd. She mentioned she was capable of then have a look at her cellphone and noticed that it was 10:57 p.m.

After a couple of minutes, she began regaining sensation in her legs. Even then, “there were so many unconscious bodies on the floor that I couldn’t even walk,” she mentioned.

She managed to make it dwelling, however on Sunday, she developed a fever and spent 4 hours in the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital on the Catholic University of Korea, the place she was identified with rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening situation that includes muscle damage and necrosis as cells — in Velandia’s case, in the leg — start to die. The muscle tissue releases proteins and electrolytes into the blood and might harm the center or kidneys or trigger everlasting incapacity or loss of life. On Friday, medical doctors will verify her kidneys for harm. Speaking from her dorm room on Monday, she mentioned the ache has gotten worse. One leg is swollen and purple, and she or he is unable to put her total foot on the bottom as she walks.

Even now, her chest hurts if she breathes too deeply.

Ali Asgary, an professional in catastrophe and emergency administration at York University in Canada, mentioned crowd disasters are difficult and never very nicely understood.

“Injuries and fatalities in these situations can be caused by a combination of factors working together,” he mentioned in an e-mail. Those components embody the density of folks, how robust the partitions are, whether or not the bottom is uneven or how slender the area is, he added.

Here’s what causes crowd crushes like the deadly one in Seoul

Other security specialists have reported restrictive asphyxia, head trauma and rib fractures as potential causes of damage or loss of life in crowd crushes. And the issue authorities typically have in evacuating the injured or offering speedy medical care could make issues worse, in line with Rohini Haar, an emergency doctor who teaches on the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health. “Unfortunately, once a crush starts, it’s hard to stop.”

According to Velandia, many individuals have been attempting to maneuver our bodies to clearer floor to carry out CPR as she escaped the crowd late Saturday. Some individuals who seemed to be lifeless had vomit in their mouths and round them, suggesting that they had choked, she mentioned.

She discovered her good friend, Cano, who had borrowed a stranger’s cellphone to name her. The two met in entrance of Itaewon Station, the place the place so many partygoers had began their Halloween night time.

“We hugged and we cried a lot when we saw each other, because we really thought the other was dead,” Velandia mentioned. “It’s a miracle that we are alive, really.”

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