S.Korea’s parliament approves independent investigation of 2022 Halloween crush

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Bereaved family members of the victims of the Halloween crush in 2022 react at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on May 2. (AP)

SEOUL, South Korea, May 2, (AP): South Korea’s parliament on Thursday approved special legislation mandating a new, independent investigation into the 2022 Halloween crush in Seoul that killed 159 people.
The single-chamber National Assembly passed the bill by a 256-0 vote. It will become law after it is signed by conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol and promulgated by his government agency – steps that are considered formalities because the president and his ruling party already agreed on the legislation.
The bill is meant to delve into the root cause of the crush, and look at how authorities handled the disaster and who should be blamed for it. It envisages the creation of a fact-finding committee with nine members that would independently examine the disaster for up to 15 months.
Once the committee determines who is responsible and who should face charges, it would report them to the government’s investigation agencies. The agencies would then be required to conclude investigations of the suspects within three months, according to the bill.
The crush, one of the biggest peacetime disasters in South Korea, caused a nationwide outpouring of grief. The victims, who were mostly in their 20s and 30s, had gathered in Seoul’s popular nightlife district of Itaewon for Halloween celebrations.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, there was also anger that the government had again ignored safety and regulatory issues despite the lessons learned since the 2014 sinking of the ferry Sewol, which killed 304 people – mostly teenagers on a school trip.

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