Rescuers retrieve eight bodies from flooded South Korea underpass

The bodies of eight people trapped in a tunnel flooded by torrential rain were recovered in central South Korea today, Sunday, according to local authorities and media, bringing the death toll from the days of torrential rain that swept the country. to 35.

About 15 vehicles, including a bus, were submerged in a city tunnel shortly after a dam of a nearby river was destroyed by heavy rain on Saturday, said Seo Jeong-il, chief of the West Cheongju Fire Station.

Television footage broadcast on local station MBC showed muddy water flowing into the tunnel as vehicles passed with their wheels submerged.

“We are concentrating on the search process as there are likely to be more people there,” Seo told reporters. “We’re doing our best to wrap it up today.”

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the death toll in the tunnel was nine, including one body, which was recovered on Saturday.

The Ministry of Interior and Safety said 10 people were missing across the country as of 11 a.m. as heavy rains caused landslides and floods, and 7,866 people were covered by evacuation orders.

The ministry’s data does not include those in the flooded tunnel because it was not immediately clear how many people were trapped underwater.

The latest disaster occurred despite South Korea’s pledge to step up preparation for heavy rains after Seoul was hit by floods last year that caused the heaviest rains in 115 years, inundating basement apartments in low-lying neighbourhoods, including the largely affluent Gangnam district. .

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An official in North Chungcheong Province said the dam collapsed unexpectedly before rainfall reached the level required to restrict access to the tunnel.

President Yoon Seok Yul, who is now on an overseas trip, held a video-linked response meeting and said some regions had failed to take preventive measures against severe weather.

Yoon’s office said he had ordered Prime Minister Han Duk-soo to mobilize all available resources to reduce the number of infections and urged the meteorological agency to quickly release forecasts because more heavy rains are expected in the coming days.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said the central and southern parts of the country could receive up to 300 mm of additional rain by Tuesday.

While South Korea often experiences heavy rains in the summer, it has seen a sharp increase in torrential rains in recent years.

Korea Railways has suspended all slow and some express trains since Saturday due to safety concerns over landslides, track floods and rockfall.

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