South Korea flood: Nine bodies recovered from flooded tunnel as 37 killed by flooding and landslides
Rescue workers have recovered nine bodies from cars trapped in a flooded tunnel in Osong near Cheongju in South Korea. It brings the death total in the country to at least 37 after the country was hit by deadly flash floods and landslides.
Days of torrential rain caused flood water to pour into the underpass so quickly that people were trapped inside their cars, unable to escape. It is unclear how many people are trapped inside the 685-metre long tunnel, with 15 vehicles thought to be submerged.
Several of the bodies that have been recovered by rescue workers came from inside a bus that was trapped inside the tunnel. Nine survivors were also rescued from their vehicles on Saturday, with 11 others believed to be still missing.
The chief of the city’s fire department, Seo Jeong-il said that nearly 400 rescue workers, including divers, were searching in the tunnel. Photos from the scene show rescue workers establishing a perimeter and pumping brown, muddy water out of the tunnel, as divers with wet suits and rubber boots move in and out of the tunnel in groups.
An official from the North Chungcheong provincial fire department, Yang Chan-mo, said it could take several hours to pump all the water from the tunnel, as the water is dense with mud and other debris. Mr Chan-mo also said that workers have been proceeding slowly to drain the tunnel to prevent any victims or survivors from being swept out.
Most other fatalities were in the North Gyeongsang region, which is known for being mountainous. Landslides in the area have swept away whole houses.
Almost 11.8in of rain has reportedly fallen across South Korea on Saturday. On average, the country typically sees within 39.4in to 70.9in a year according to the Korean Meteorological Association, with much of this falling during the summer months.
Thousands have been affected by evacuation orders that came into effect early on Saturday morning. 6,400 residents were evacuated after the Goesan Dam, also in North Chungcheong began to overflow.
The country’s prime minister Han Duck-soo has asked the military to help with rescue efforts after a number of low-lying villages near the dam and many connecting roads were submerged, leaving some residents trapped inside their homes.
A landslide, late on Friday, caused a train to derail in North Chungcheong, with one engineer injured. Fortunately the train was not carrying passengers at the time.
The Korea Meteorological Administration forecast that rainfall will continue through to Wednesday next week. It has warned that the weather conditions will pose a “grave” danger to life.
India, China and Japan have also suffered from floods and landslides due to extreme rain in the past fortnight. Scientists have said that a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.