Pictured: Grace Rached, 23, who was crushed to death in South Korea
Grace Rached was 12 days shy of her 24th birthday and dressed as Audrey Hepburn when she went out to enjoy celebrations in central Itaewon district with three of her friends on Saturday night.
The film production assistant became jammed in a crowd of people who raced to see a local celebrity, and became one of 153 people killed in what her friend Nathan Taverniti described on Tik Tok as a ‘slow and agonising crush’.
Loved ones were seen piling into her parents’ Sydney home on Monday morning.
A close friend had tears in her eyes when she told Daily Mail Australia the family would like to deal with the young woman’s tragic death ‘privately’.
Ms Rached had been travelling around the world.
Just two days before the disaster, she uploaded a Tik Tok video of herself on a trip to Bali which showed her swimming, cycling, dancing and drinking flaming shots with her friends on the Indonesian resort island.
She captioned the video: ‘Thanks Bali, you were a blast.’
In another post from August this year, Ms Rached posted an ominous video called ‘what I’ve learned in my almost 24 years of life’.
She wrote in the clip: ‘When you go, nothing goes with you. So you may as well enjoy your time here.’
Grace Rached (pictured left) was a filmmaker who travelled all over the world for her job
Nathan Taverniti dressed up to take part in Seoul’s Halloween celebrations. Grace Rached is on the right, dressed as Audrey Hepburn. The woman on the left is in hospital
Ms Rached was a student at Canterbury Girls’ High School before she graduated in 2016.
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, a spokesperson from the Department of Education said: ‘We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of a former Canterbury Girls High School student.
‘Our sincere condolences and deepest sympathies go to the student’s family and the broader school community.
The school will be providing counseling and support for all affected students and staff.’
Friends and loved ones flooded her Tik Tok profile over the weekend with heartfelt messages and tributes.
‘I hope you rest in peace Grace, what an awful situation to be in, sending prayers for family and friends,’ one person wrote.
Another said: ‘Rest in peace my angel.’
‘Rest in peace. You deserved so much better,’ added another.
Ms Rached was an avid traveller who flew all over the world with Electric Lime Films, the indie film company she worked for.
Just two days before she died, Grace Rached uploaded a Tik Tok video showing her trip to Bali
Grace Rached is pictured left and right, drinking shots and dancing in Bali with her friends
Friends loved ones flooded social media with heartfelt messages and tributes to Grace Rached (left)
In an online interview on the company’s website, the young woman described her jet-setting lifestyle as ‘electrifying’.
‘Singapore was a dream!’ she said.
‘I loved being able to meet people from all walks of life, and learn how the industry operates. Travelling is always an eye opening experience.’
In a gut-wrenching Tik Tok video on Sunday, Mr Taverniti said he tried to grab Ms Rached out of the suffocating chaos but wasn’t able to.
‘I was there when she said she couldn’t breathe and I grabbed one of my friend’s hands,’ he said in a TikTok post.
‘There was no stampede, it was a slow and agonising crush.’
He earlier told a South Korean newspaper that: ‘All I could see was a wall of people … it was impossible (to save her).’
He later saw her taken away on a stretcher but couldn’t find her.
A young tattoo artist wrote on social media that her sister is in ICU after the stampede.
The sisters are originally from South Korea but grew up in Sydney, and were at the celebration with Ms Rached at the time.
Nathan Taverniti who was holidaying in Seoul saw his travel companion from Sydney crushed to death in the Halloween disaster on Saturday night
Emergency workers urgently try to extricate those most in need of medical assistance from the crowd on Saturday night
Mr Taverniti said he was making the video after just arriving at his accommodation having located his friend’s body, which he only did with the help of some ‘kind-hearted reporters’ from the American ABC network.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson has confirmed an Australian died in the tragedy, which also cost the lives of 18 other foreigners.
‘The Australian Government sends its condolences to the family and others affected by this tragic incident,’ he said.
‘We ask for the family’s privacy to be respected during this difficult time.’
Consular officials were in contact with the deceased woman’s family in Australia and were helping ‘a number of other Australians who were present at the event’.
Olivia Jacovic, a 27-year-old West Australian living in Seoul, told Channel Nine how she and her friends narrowly escaped the deadly crush after taking 40 minutes to get out of the subway stop at the site.
‘It was really hard, I had bruises on my arms from trying to manoeuvre out but we got on the sidelines luckily and we were standing up on this brick wall and we could see above,’ she said.
‘It was just shoulder-to-shoulder, people couldn’t breathe the shorter people were trying to look up in the air to get some air.’
Mr Taverniti man reacts while looking for his friend’s name on the list of missing people at a community service centre after a stampede during Halloween festivities in Seoul, South Korea, October 30, 2022
Ms Jacovic said she had to struggle hard to free herself from the surging crowd.
‘I just wanted to get out of there… I don’t care that my clothes were getting ripped, she said.
Mr Taverniti blamed the lack of planning and police preparedness for the disaster.
‘I watched as people filmed and sang and laughed while my friends were dying among with many other people,’ he said.
‘I was there trying to pull people out because there was not enough police officers and nobody was doing anything to make the crowd stop.
‘We were yelling, saying ‘you have to turn around, you have to go back, people are dying’ but nobody was listening.
‘I waited 30 minutes for the police to arrive where I was. It took over an hour for more police to arrive and even longer for emergency services.’
Olivia Jacovic told Channel Nine how she narrowly escaped the crush that claimed the lives of 153 people in Seoul
Those caught in the crush were left shocked, checking their phones to try and contact missing loved ones or hugging one another
He confirmed other reports that CPR was administered by volunteers.
‘There were people lying on the ground getting CPR not by health professionals by random people, whoever could,’ Mr Taverniti said.
‘I am sad. I am devastated by this situation which could have been so easily avoided but nobody would listen.’
Sydney woman Julia Cho, was one of four friends with Mr Taverniti, has also shared her experience on TikTok.
Ms Cho said her sister was in intensive care, while the other friend had lost their life,
She also delivered a damning assessment of police and other services.
The incident on Saturday night led to 140 ambulances being deployed to help treat and evacuate the injured
‘Local authorities were not on standby and left innocent people helpless, despite knowing there was an excessive amount of people in the streets with nowhere to go,’ she said.
‘This happened very early in the night. People were suffocating, toppling over one another and crushed.’
‘The leaders and authorities hold sole responsibility and have failed their people.’
Revelers dressed in Halloween costumes are seen leaving the scene after a crush killed at least 146 people in Seoul
Seoul’s emergency services had been overwhelmed by the fatal crush amongst a 100,000-strong crowd there to attend the city’s 2022 Halloween Festival.
It was first time the festival had been held in full since Covid, with the crush occurring shortly after 10pm local time (8pm EADT).
Officials confirmed that dozens of people went into cardiac arrest and the number of deaths is still expected to rise. An unspecified number remain in a critical condition in hospital.
Photos from the scene showed at least 25 bodies lying on the ground in the streets of Seoul, concealed by yellow blankets. A separate line of bodies covered in blue blankets was also photographed.
As the full scale of the tragedy was still being realised, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Sunday morning that the deadly stampede ‘should not have happened’.
An exhausted young woman is carried away from the scene to safety after becoming caught up in the night’s events
‘In the centre of Seoul, a tragedy and disaster occurred that should not have happened,’ Yoon said in a national address, vowing to ‘thoroughly investigate’ the incident and ensure it could never happen again.
According to local emergency responders, many of the victims were women in their 20s, and most were teenagers or in their early twenties.
A makeshift morgue was set up in an adjacent building due to the sheer number of fatalities.
Officials added it was believed that people were crushed to death after a large crowd began pushing forward in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul, upon hearing rumours a celebrity was nearby.
Dozens of people were given CPR on Itaewon’s streets while many others have been taken to nearby hospitals.
One witness described the height of the crush: ‘People were layered on top of others like a tomb. Some were gradually losing their consciousness while some looked dead by that point.’
Photographs and videos on social media show horrific scenes of panic in the aftermath of the crush, and people’s desperate efforts to escape from the building tragedy.
Parts of costumes were scattered around the scene of the deadly crush hours after it occurred, as police began their investigation into the cause
One particularly distressing video showed dozens of people struggling to breathe and stay on their feet in the crowd as rescue workers attempted to extricate those most in need of medical assistance from the throng.
More than 1,700 emergency workers were deployed from across South Korea to respond to one of the deadliest crowd crushes in recent history.
More footage overlooking the street showed dozens of emergency responders working desperately to administer CPR to victims lying on the street.
Hundreds of police officers had been deployed to the area in advance of Saturday night in anticipation of the large crowds, but they were reportedly struggling to keep control in the minutes before the tragedy unfolded.