South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a period
of national mourning after at least 151 people were killed during Halloween
celebrations in Seoul on Friday. Most of those dead were in their 20s and 30s,
officials have confirmed. “This is truly tragic. A tragedy and disaster that
should not have happened took place in the heart of Seoul last night,” the
South Korean president said in a public address to the nation.
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“As president, who is responsible for the people’s
lives and safety, my heart is heavy and I struggle to cope with grief. The government
will designate the period from today until the accident is brought under
control as a period of national mourning and will place top priority in
administrative affairs in recovery and follow-up measures,” Yoon said in his
Expressing condolences over the deaths, the President
said funeral arrangements will be made and all emergency medical services will
be mobilised to treat patients.
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South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told the
media that a mourning altar would be set up in downtown soul. The mourning
period will be from Sunday to Saturday, as per the President’s instruction. All
public servants will be required to wear mourning ribbons.
Families of victims of the tragedy and those injured
will receive financial assistance from the government. “The most important
thing is to determine the cause of the accident and prevent similar accidents.
We will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and make fundamental
improvements so that similar accidents do not happen again in the future,” the
South Korean President said.
Yoon visited the site of the accident and ordered all
government offices to lower their flags to half-mast.
At least 151 deaths have been reported, including that
of 19 foreign nationals, according to Yongsan Fire Station Chief Choi
Sung-beom. Saturday’s Halloween event was the first no-mask Halloween
celebration in South Korea since the COVID-19 pandemic.