Heads of state and leaders around the world sent letters of condolences.
In the afternoon on April 17 (local standard time), in addition to releasing an official statement, President Barack Obama said in the White House press conference “On behalf of the American people, I would like to express deepest condolences to the Republic of Korea and the families of all those who have seen their loved ones lost when a ferry sank within the last couple of days.”
Obama plans to pay respect to the victims and their families during his visit to Seoul between April 25 and 26.
On April 19, Pope Francis tweeted “Please join me in praying for the victims of the ferry disaster in Korea and their families.” Pope Francis has around 3.93 million Twitter followers and he is due to visit Seoul between August 14 and 18.
Queen Elizabeth II sent a letter of condolences to President Park Geunhye on April 18. The letter reads “I was deeply shocked to hear that the ferry accident caused the loss of life and injuries. I was particularly saddened to hear that many of those involved are young school children. Prince Philip joins me in extending our sympathy to you and the Korean people at this time. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the United Kingdom are with the families of the dead, missing and those affected by this terrible event.”
One day earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron shared his sympathy in a statement that said “The United Kingdom feels deep sorrow and heartache over this tragedy. At this time of tribulation, I deliver our deep compassion to the victims, those who risk their lives in the rescue efforts, the Korean government, and the people.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter that reads “Our deepest sympathies are with the victims of the sunken ship, to those young people in particular. We send our heartfelt condolences to all the Korean people and pray for a quick recovery of all the injured.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China said “President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi would like to send deep condolences to the victims, the missing, the injured, and their families. China is always ready to provide any necessary support or assistance to Korea.”
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a statement, saying “On behalf of the Japanese people, I would like to send sincere condolences to the victims of the ferry accident. We are ready to offer all possible cooperation needed to help Korea deal with this tragedy.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Kimoon conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family members as well. He is quoted as saying “The United Nations and I will be there for the victims and the bereaved family members so that they can overcome their pain and agony.”
In total, 45 leaders including Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, and three international organizations including the United Nations, the Global Green Growth Institute, and the International Organization for Migration offered condolences.