SEOUL (Reuters) -Foreign leaders expressed condolences over the deadly crowd surge in Seoul’s Itaewon district, with more than 20 foreign nationals from 15 countries among those killed in the crush in a popular nightspot.
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.
South Korea’s foreign ministry put the total at 26 foreign nationals killed from 15 countries. A ministry official told Reuters the dead included people from China, Iran and Russia.
Two Japanese nationals, a woman in her twenties and another woman between the age of 10 and 19, were also 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.
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.”
Four Russian citizens died, the RIA news agency reported, citing the Russian embassy in South Korea.
“Please convey words of sincere sympathy and support to the families and friends of the victims, and also wishes for the swift recovery of all the injured,” President Vladimir Putin said in a Telegram to Yoon.
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.”
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.”
“Italy is close to the Korean people in this moment of great sorrow and profound sadness,” Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Twitter.
(Reporting by Josh Smith and Reuters bureausEditing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry and Barbara Lewis)