South Korean authorities said Sunday that at least 33 people have died and 10 are missing after heavy rains triggered floods and landslides in South Korea, while rescuers are actively searching for people trapped in a flooded underground tunnel.
South Korea is in the middle of the summer monsoon season and it has been raining heavily for the past four days, causing widespread floods and landslides, as well as overflowing a large dam.
The Interior Ministry said 33 people were killed and ten others were missing as a result of the heavy rains, most of whom were buried by landslides or fell into a flooded reservoir.
The ministry said rescuers are working to reach about 15 cars stuck in a tunnel 430 meters underground in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.
According to Yonhap News Agency, the tunnel was flooded on Saturday morning after flash floods flooded it too quickly for people to escape.
On Sunday, seven new bodies were found in a submerged bus, including the body of a woman in her 70s, Yonhap news agency reported.
“I don’t have any more hope but I can’t leave,” a relative of one of the victims who disappeared in the tunnel told Yonhap. He added, “My heart breaks at the thought of the pain my son felt in the cold water.”
Footage broadcast on local television showed a torrent of water from a nearby river, which burst its banks and rushed into the tunnel, while rescuers used boats to reach the victims inside.
France Press agency
South Korean President Yoon Sok-yul, who is currently on an overseas trip, held an emergency meeting with his aides to discuss the government’s response to severe weather and flooding, said the office of South Korean President.
Earlier, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo had ordered all available resources to be mobilized to minimize losses.
The majority of the victims, including 17 dead and nine missing, are from North Gyeongsang Province, a mountainous region that was particularly hard hit by landslides that swept through homes and trapped occupants inside.
The ministry said a scandalous river was swept away by some missing people in North Gyeongsang Province.
More rain is expected through Wednesday, and the Korea Meteorological Administration warned that the weather conditions posed a “grave” danger.
South Korea is regularly affected by floods during the summer monsoon but the country is generally well prepared and the number of casualties remains relatively low.
Last year, the country also witnessed torrential rains and floods, killing 11 people.
The government then said that precipitation in 2022 was the heaviest since weather records began in Seoul 115 years ago, blaming the extremes on climate change.
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