By Stella Kim, Thomas Maresca and Mithil Aggarwal
SEOUL, South Korea — As morning arrived in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood, quiet prevailed at the scene of the tragedy where at least 153 people died on what should have been a night of Halloween revelry.
Some sat stunned on the sidewalk, still trying to process the night’s events, while groups of stragglers still in costume wandered down streets as police blocked off the entrances to the alleys. Emergency vehicles stood idle.
“How could this happen?” Lee Da-eum, 25, asked NBC News.
She said she had been in a nearby club when she heard that there had been an accident outside. “Then my mom started calling and texting after she saw the news,” she said. “She knew I was coming here and was so worried.”
She said she had noticed the area was getting overcrowded even though she had arrived early for the night’s celebrations.
Lee was one of the lucky ones.
Over the course of Sunday the death toll continued to rise. The Yongsan fire department said in an update that 153 people had been killed and 103 injured in crowd surge Saturday night as thousands turned out for Halloween festivities in the popular nightlife district.
Two American citizens were among the dead, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul confirmed to NBC News Sunday. “Our staff in Seoul and colleagues in the United States are working tirelessly to provide consular assistance to the victims of last night’s incident and their families,” the spokesperson said.
The embassy did not provide any details about the victims, such as their age or identity.