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Extreme weather: Devastating floods in South Korea, these towns are affected

Heavy downpours battered South Korea for the ninth straight day Monday as rescue workers tried to search for survivors of landslides,

By Ground report
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Extreme weather: Devastating floods in South Korea, these towns are affected

Heavy downpours battered South Korea for the ninth straight day Monday as rescue workers tried to search for survivors of landslides, mudslides and drowned vehicles in the most destructive storm to hit the country this year.

Heavy rains began to hit the country on July 9, leading to at least 40 deaths, 34 injuries, and the evacuation of more than 10,000 people from their homes. The central and southern regions of South Korea experienced the most severe damage.

In the central city of Cheongju, hundreds of rescuers, including divers, actively searched for survivors in a muddy tunnel. The flash flood had trapped around 15 vehicles, including a bus, filling the underground in just a few minutes on Saturday evening.

The government dispatched almost 900 rescuers to the site, and they have so far retrieved 13 bodies and saved nine people who received treatment for injuries. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the affected vehicles.

By Monday afternoon, rescuers had removed most of the water from the tunnel and were searching the site on foot, the day after using rubber boats to move and moving bodies on stretchers.

South Korea floods

Hundreds of emergency workers, soldiers, and police actively searched for any survivors in the southeastern town of Yechon. The devastating landslides claimed the lives of at least nine people, while eight others remained missing. The landslides destroyed homes and buried roads, as reported by the county office.

Footage from the scene showed police officers and firefighters searching with sniffer dogs, wading through knee-deep mud and debris from destroyed homes.

A report by the Ministry of the Interior and Security indicated that almost 200 houses and some 150 roads suffered damage or destruction throughout the country, while 28,607 people had been without electricity for several days.

The Korean Meteorological Administration maintained advisories for heavy rainfall in much of the country. Torrential rains were dumping up to 3 centimeters per hour in some southern areas. The office said the central and southern regions could still receive up to 20 centimeters of rain through Tuesday.

Houses swept away

Firefighters estimate that the tunnel, which was flooded on Saturday, took just three minutes to be completely covered by water. Among the trapped vehicles there is a bus, and it is unknown how many people were traveling in each of them. The situation has forced the deployment of divers and rubber boats, who are working tirelessly in search of more victims, the Interior Ministry said.

In the worst-hit areas, "entire houses were completely swept away," said a rescue worker. The rains also caused the suspension of rail service, with the exception of bullet trains that will continue to operate with possible schedule adjustments, according to the Korea Railway Corporation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is on a trip abroad, held an emergency meeting with his aides on the government's response to heavy rains and flooding, his office said. Earlier, he ordered Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to mobilize all available resources to minimize casualties.

Underpass disaster

The flooding of the underpass in Cheongju, South Korea, has sparked separate investigations by the government and police. The incident occurred when a nearby river overflowed its banks, causing an embankment to collapse, trapping more than 10 vehicles, including a bus. So far, 13 people have been reported dead, but rescuers fear the number of victims will rise as they continue their search.

The Prime Minister's Secretariat revealed reports of calls to the police, requesting emergency evacuation orders for nearby residents and the closure of the tunnel an hour before the disaster struck. The objective of the investigation is to determine the cause of the lack of protection of lives and prevention of this type of tragedies.

Prime Minister Yoon pointed out that mismanagement of danger zones contributed to the accident and stressed that preventive evacuations and road closures are crucial in disaster response to save lives.

The Korea Meteorological Administration has forecast more heavy rain through Wednesday, urging the public to stay indoors. South Korea experiences summer monsoon flooding, but past preparedness efforts have kept the death toll relatively low.

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