What could cause dozens of cardiac arrests at a gathering

CNN reports that this happened in South Korea.

Surely either it’s an attack or the story is missing some very important context.

Large crowd pushing forward. Crowd surge crushed people

Last night, my wife was watching a somewhat lurid show about singer David Cassidy on HLN. They described an incident at one of his concerts in England in the early 1970s, when he was a huge teen idol: the excited girls in the venue were all pushing forward to get closer to the stage, and one girl, who was getting crushed in the crowd, suffered cardiac arrest, and died.

Then shouldn’t they report them as “cardiac arrest”, since well that’s always the immediate cause whatever the underlying reason. Even if you get beheaded.

A morbid question, but how exactly does one die in a crush. I understand method, but what happens to the body?

I read elsewhere (in connection with this story) that a lot of Asian news networks call any death that hasn’t been examined by a medical examiner yet “cardiac arrest.” They don’t mean, “heart attack,” they mean, “This person’s heart stopped beating, but we don’t have an official medical determination of why.” Someone getting shot would be described as being in “cardiac arrest” until the medical report is filed.

I basically got this explanation off Reddit, so take it with a grain of salt.

There was a notorious case in the US in Cincinnati in 1979 during a Who concert. Tickets were general admission (no reserved seats) and they only opened a few doors to the arena. There was a huge crush of people trying to get in and 11 died in the press.

Either your organs are mushed, or your chest is compressed so tight you can’t breathe.

In the incident at the Who concert in Cincinnati, it appears that that was the cause of death for all 11 of the fatalities; the Wikipedia article linked to by @Whack-a-Mole indicates that they all died of asphyxiation (presumably due to being unable to draw a breath from the crushing).

It takes remarkably little pressure to prevent someone from breathing. I used to scuba dive and, IIRC, in my training they noted the bit of breathing through a straw or hose while under water. 3-5 feet under water was enough to make it impossible to do that because of the water pressure. In other words, it does not take much to make it impossible to breathe.

From the BBC:

. 146 people have died in a crush in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, with another 150 injured
. The accident occurred as huge crowds gathered in a popular nightlife area to celebrate Halloween
. It is not known how the crush began
. It was the first outdoor no-mask Halloween event since the pandemic

There were several incidents like this IIRC in Britain, where crowds at a soccer game crushed the people up from in standing room only area many years ago. In one, the crowd was leaving because the game was almost over and a foregone conclusion seemed happening. As crowds left, a big cheer went up and everyone piled back in to try to find out what happened.

Yes, if you cant expand your lungs to breathe, at a certain point you will stop trying.

Hillsborough Disaster is the most (in)famous.

Other examples being the Ibrox Park disaster and the Heysel Stadium disaster in Brussels.

Yes, I read the same thing on the first day of reporting but have been unable to find a cite since.

This was not a case of all these victums collapsing of sudden cardiac arrest. They died from being crushed, couldn’t breath, other injuries, and since they are dead the Korean authorities call that cardiac arrest until a more accurate determination of the cause of death is found.

Heart stops working, you are dead, reason, cardiac arrest.

On being unable to breathe, see positional asphyxia:

I think it’s also possible to compress the rib cage enough so that the heart can’t pump properly. Stopping blood flow can induce unconsciousness faster than stopping breathing.

My parents had a hot tub, and I once experimented with using a scrap piece of pipe as a snorkel so I could lie on the bottom of the tub. This put my rib cage about 2 feet below the surface, and it was really hard to inhale. 2 feet of depth isn’t much pressure - a little less than 1 psi - but a rib cage has a lot of surface area. Figure 1 square foot of rib-cage area, at 1 psi, that was 144 pounds on top of me.

Seems like the survival strategy - if one cannot escape the crowd - is to maintain at least 1-2 inches of room in front of your chest at all times, lest you be unable to breathe. So you have to put your fists or arms in front of you.

This is similar to the opinion of my sister who is an actual pathologist who does post-mortems, and its not just Asian news networks. Western media will also see “cardiac arrest” on a medical report and repeat it without pointing out that “cardiac arrest” just means the heart stopped, and is absolutely not the same thing as a heart attack.

I doubt this would work because the pressure on your fists and arms from people around you would just transfer to your chest.

I was once in a slight crush. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced. The force was immense. Several hundred people pushing in one direction create huge force.

In my case it was not very serious and quite brief but the feeling of absolute helplessness as overwhelming force came in from all sides was not something I ever want to experience again.

Sorry to hear you went through that. I read one news article that said the force involved in crowd crushes can bend steel.

Almost 30 years ago there was a surge at the University of Wisconsin football stadium after a game:

The force of the entire crowd pushing forward was enough to break the railing at the front of the seating section.