World leaders offered condolences as the death toll in the Seoul Halloween crowd surge continued to rise over October 30. Nearly 150 people died while many others were injured during Halloween festivities in South Korea’s capital Seoul, officials said.
Choi Seong-beom, chief of Seoul’s Yongsan fire department, said the death toll could rise and that an unspecified number among the injured were in critical conditions following the stampede in Itaewon on Saturday night.
He said that the bodies were being sent to hospitals or a gym, where bereaved family members could identify them. He earlier said most of the dead and injured are in their 20s.
U.S. President Joe Biden offered his deepest condolences, calling the incident tragic.
“Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul. 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,” he wrote, referring to his wife, first lady Jill Biden.
“The Alliance between our two countries has never been more vibrant or more vital – and the ties between our people are stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time.”
Reacting to the “horrific news”, U.K.’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “On behalf of Canadians, I’m sending my deepest condolences to the people of South Korea today, following a deadly stampede in Seoul.”
“I’m thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy, and wishing a fast and full recovery to those who were injured,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered France’s “heartfelt” support to South Korea.
“Heartfelt thoughts for the residents of Seoul and the Korean people after the tragedy at Itaewon. France is by your side,” Mr. Macron said on Twitter.
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a tweet said, that he was deeply saddened by the terrible events in central Seoul.
“What meant to be a celebration turned into a tragedy with so many young casualties. We are with the people of the Republic of Korea at this difficult moment.”
More than 1,700 response personnel from across the country were deployed to the streets to help the wounded, including about 520 firefighters, 1,100 police officers and 70 government workers.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a statement calling for officials to ensure swift treatment for those injured and review the safety of the festivity sites.
This was the deadliest crushing disaster in South Korean history.
(With inputs from agencies)