Arab, world leaders offer condolences to South Korea over deadly stampede

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Government officials from the Arab region and beyond expressed their condolences to South Korea on Sunday following a deadly stampede at a Halloween celebration that killed more than 150 people.

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Seoul expressed its sadness over Saturday night’s events and offered its condolences to “the [South] Korean government and to the friendly Korean people,” it said in a tweet.

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The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement sending its condolences and expressing its sympathy to South Korea and its people.

For his part, President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan sent a cable of condolences to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, the official Emirati news agency WAM reported, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai also sent a similar cable to the South Korean president.

Those killed in Saturday night’s disaster included people from China, Iran, Russia, the United States, Australia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Austria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Norway and France, Yonhap news agency reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent condolences to South Korea, state media reported, saying he was “shocked” to learn of a stampede at a Halloween celebration.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and the people of China, I express our deep condolences for the victims,” Xi said in a message to South Korean President, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Earlier Sunday, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “deeply saddened” by the events.

“I’m hugely shocked and deeply saddened by the extremely tragic accident in Itaewon, Seoul, that took many precious lives, including those of young people with their future ahead of them,” Kishida tweeted.

US 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 of age or identity, citing confidentiality.

“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.”

With AFP and Reuters

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