Taoiseach joins world leaders in offering condolences after Seoul Halloween tragedy claims 153 lives

Taoiseach joins world leaders in offering condolences after Seoul Halloween tragedy claims 153 lives

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has expressed his sadness after a crush in the South Korean capital of Seoul claimed the lives of 153 people.

The tragedy happened after thousands flocked to the city's streets for Halloween celebrations following the lifting of social distancing restrictions.

The crush reportedly began in a narrow street in the Itaewon district, a popular nightlife area.

Police officers on Sunday morning at the scene of the tragedy (Image: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Most of the victims are reportedly teenagers or people in their early 20s, while a further 82 people have been injured.

Of those dead, 20 are believed to be foreign nationals.

'Shocked and saddened'

As the death toll grew, the Taoiseach said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected.

"Shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy in Seoul with at least 146 lives lost and many more injured," he tweeted.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those killed or injured, and all the people of South Korea tonight."

Pedestrians and members of the emergency services on the streets of Itaewon following Saturday night’s tragedy (Image: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney added: "Devastating news from Seoul. I extend my deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.

"On behalf of Ireland our thoughts are with them and with those injured."

The Irish Embassy in Seoul has urged any citizens affected by the tragedy to contact them on (02) 721 7200.

'We grieve with Korea'

US President Joe Biden also offered his condolences, saying America would support South Korea during the tragedy.

"Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Seoul," he said.

"We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and wish for a quick recovery to all those who were injured.

"The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time."

Relatives of missing people wait for news at a community service centre on Sunday morning (Image: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: "Horrific news from Seoul tonight. All our thoughts are with those currently responding and all South Koreans at this very distressing time."

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of national mourning to continue until Saturday, November 5.

In a statement, he said: "This is truly tragic. A tragedy and disaster that should not have happened took place in the heart of Seoul last night."

Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul, said the city would come together to support those affected.

"The victims of this tragedy last night were precious citizens and our children," he said.

"It's so heartbreaking to see this happen to our sons and daughters at a festival where they beat COVID-19 and went to the mask-off festival.

"It's a very sad, tearful sentiment.

Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon addresses the media (Image: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

"My deepest condolences to the families and acquaintances of the victims, especially the parents and brothers who lost their sons and daughters."

He added: "The city will do everything possible to comfort the bereaved families who are in great grief.

"We will help the injured who are still in the hospital to recover quickly.

"Seoul City will do its best to make the families and the injured feel that our society is all together."