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Biden remarks on Seoul Halloween stampede that left at least 149 dead

Rescuers move an injured person on a stretcher in Seoul's Itaewon district after a stampede during Halloween parties in Seoul in which at least 59 people were killed. Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE
Rescuers move an injured person on a stretcher in Seoul's Itaewon district after a stampede during Halloween parties in Seoul in which at least 59 people were killed. Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE

Oct. 29 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Saturday issued remarks on the tragic stampede that left at least 149 people dead and dozens injured, including at least one U.S. citizen, in a Seoul nightlife district amid Halloween festivities.

"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," Biden said in a statement.

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"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."

The U.S. State Department told CNN that at least one person injured during the tragedy is an American citizen.

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"We are working with local authorities to determine if any additional U.S. citizens were affected and stand ready to provide consular assistance," an official told CNN.

At least 149 people were killed and more than 150 were injured during a stampede, authorities confirmed.

President Yoon Suk-yeol was personally presiding over emergency response efforts to the deadly crush in the city's Itaewon neighborhood, the Yonhap news agency reported.

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It's not clear what exactly was behind the death toll, but pictures on social media from the scene show first responders performing CPR on multiple victims and others lying unconscious in the streets.

Another video posted on Twitter showed what appears to be emergency workers attempting to rescue victims trapped in a massive pile of people.

Witnesses said the stampede happened near the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, known as the city's International District and home to several nightclubs and vibrant nightlife.

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A large number of people were believed to have entered a narrow alley near the hotel.

More than 100,000 people were packed into the area at the time, the BBC reported. The celebration marked the city's first Halloween celebration following two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

More than 400 emergency workers and 140 vehicles from across the country, including all available personnel in Seoul, responded to the crisis.

"A lot of young people have gathered here tonight. A lot of people came to the party and club, wearing costumes and a lot of people I've seen distraught and sad and there are chaotic scenes," BBC reporter Hosu Lee said from the scene.

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