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BLAST HITS SEOUL HOTEL WHERE CLINTON WILL STAY

SHARE BLAST HITS SEOUL HOTEL WHERE CLINTON WILL STAY

An explosion rocked the Seoul hotel where President Clinton is scheduled to stay during a two-day visit to South Korea later this week, White House officials said Sunday.

White House spokesman Jeff Eller told reporters accompanying Clinton to Iowa that the blast happened at the Seoul Hyatt Hotel at around 7:45 a.m. South Korea time on Monday. Clinton was en route from Philadelphia to inspect flood damage in Iowa.According to initial reports from the scene, Eller said, the blast appeared to be from a boiler. He said there was "no evidence that it was any kind of explosive device."

Clinton is scheduled to stay at the hotel next Saturday and Sunday following his participation in the summit of leading industrialized nations in Tokyo. A number of White House, Secret Service and other Clinton administration officials had already booked themselves into the Seoul hotel in anticipation of Clinton's arrival there at week's end.

None of the White House people staying in the hotel was injured, and all had been accounted for, he said. A half-dozen White House advance people, plus a number of other Secret Service, military and communications workers were there in advance of Clinton's trip, Eller said.

Eller said that from information available to White House officials traveling with the president, it appeared that three floors of the Seoul Hyatt were damaged. The explosion jarred the end of a hallway on the first floor over the boiler, he said.

The spokesman said that Clinton was informed of the blast. He said the episode might result in a change of plans on where the president will stay, although Eller emphasized that "no decisions have been made."

Among those staying in the hotel was Bev Lindsey, the wife of top White House aide Bruce Lindsey. Lindsey told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had spoken to his wife and that "she's fine."

Lindsey said that "a boiler explosion" is the initial apparent cause of the blast.

White House officials traveling with the president were informed by members of the White House military office about the explosion, Eller said.

He said that Secret Service agents in Seoul had done a preliminary investigation, which also suggested that the blast was not due to explosives.

Families were being notified by the White House to reassure them, Eller said. He said it was still too early to say whether there would be any change in the president's Korea plans.