© Reuters. A man pays tribute near the scene of the stampede during Halloween festivities, in Seoul, South Korea, October 30, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
SEOUL (Reuters) -Foreign leaders expressed condolences over the deadly crowd surge in Seoul’s Itaewon district, with at least 24 foreign nationals from 14 countries among those killed in the crush in a nightspot popular with South Koreans and foreigners alike.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a period of national mourning on Sunday after the Halloween crush on Saturday night killed some 153 people.
Those who died included people from China, Iran, Russia, the United States, Australia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Austria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Norway and France, Yonhap news agency reported.
At least four Chinese nationals were among those killed, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Chinese embassy in Seoul.
“On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to express deep condolences to the victims and extend sincere condolences to their families and the injured,” President Xi Jinping said in a letter, according to Xinhua.
Xi said some Chinese citizens were also injured, and hoped South Korea “will make every effort to cure and deal with the aftermath.”
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden sent their condolences, writing: “We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all those who were injured.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time.”
Two Japanese nationals, a woman in her twenties and another woman between the age of 10 and 19, were confirmed to have died in the crush, an official at Japan’s foreign ministry said.
“I am greatly shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of many precious lives, including young people with a bright future, as a result of the very tragic accident,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement.
One Norwegian citizen was confirmed to have died in the crush, a spokesperson for Norway’s foreign ministry said, declining to provide any details.
“I am devastated by news of the terrible incident in connection with Halloween celebrations in Seoul,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement. “My deepest condolences to families and friends who lost their loved ones. My thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “I’m thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy, and wishing a fast and full recovery to those who were injured.”
Pope Francis, addressing the faithful in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, said “we also pray … for those, especially young people, who died overnight in Seoul due to the tragic consequences of a sudden stampede.”
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