At least 4 killed, 60 injured in stampede in S. Korea

Other News Materials 10 February 2009 05:02 (UTC +04:00)

At least four people have been killed, with 60 others injured, so far in a mountaintop stampede accident in southeastern South Korea, South Korean Police said Tuesday morning, Xinhua reported.

According to local police, the accident took place on a pampas grass field on Mount Hwangwang in Changyeong, about 320 km southeast of Seoul, at about 18:20 p.m. local time (0920 GMT) on Monday when blaze was blown to about a 15,000-people gathering on the mountaintop to watch a traditional event of burning the pampas grass.

Witness told local media that many mountain climbers watching the event had fallen off a cliff on the mountain after the blaze caused them to run and scatter.

Kim Yeon-sun, an official of the Changyeong municipal government, told Xinhua through telephone that two people remain missing as of Tuesday.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said earlier that about 13 people were reported missing in the accident.

The police said they have found four bodies, including three women and one man, on the scene so far.

The identities of two victims were confirmed, Kim told Xinhua.

About 60 people were injured in the accident, among which 25 people are in hospitals nearby, the YTN news channel quoted local police as saying. The Changnyeong municipal government holds the event of burning the pampas grass once every three years to mark the first full moon of the lunar new year on the Mount Hwangwang, whose name means "big fire mountain" in Korean, as local people believe the force of fire can bring harvest and happiness to them.

The police said they are investigating into exact cause of the accident and the identities of the victims.