9 bodies recovered from flooded tunnel in S Korea

South Korea flood
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Nine dead have been found by rescuers trying to reach vehicles trapped in a flooded tunnel close to the South Korean city of Cheongiu.


Passengers and drivers were stranded in their vehicles because flood water from days of heavy rains flowed into the underpass too swiftly.

Following widespread flooding, landslides, and power outages, at least 37 people have died in total.

Nine people are still missing.

It is unclear how many people are still trapped in the 685-metre (2,247ft) long tunnel in the town of Osong, but 15 vehicles are thought to be submerged.

Several of the bodies were recovered from inside a bus. Nine survivors were rescued on Saturday.

The victims’ families say the deaths might have been prevented had the local authorities responded effectively.

Several local media outlets reported that a few hours before the tragedy the river flood control office had issued a warning about the alarming water levels, and therefore the traffic around the tunnel area should have been diverted.

Most of the other fatalities were in the mountainous North Gyeongsang region, where landslides swept away whole houses.

Almost 300mm (11.8in) of rain is reported to have fallen across South Korea on Saturday.

The country typically sees 1,000mm (39.4in) to 1,800mm (70.9in) a year, according to the Korean Meteorological Association – although much of that does fall during the summer months.

Aerial pictures from flood-affected areas show brown mud and flood waters so deep, only the tops of roofs can been seen sticking out.

Thousands of people have been affected by evacuation orders issued by various local governments and Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has asked the military to help with the rescue efforts.

Early on Saturday morning local time, some 6,400 residents were evacuated after the Goesan Dam, also in North Chungcheong, began to overflow, the agency said.

A number of low-lying villages near the dam as well as many of the roads connecting them were submerged, leaving some residents trapped in their homes.

Late on Friday, a landslide caused a train to derail in North Chungcheong. One engineer was injured, but the train was not carrying passengers at the time.

Korail, the country’s national rail operator, has announced the suspension of all slow trains and some bullet trains, and said other bullet services would be disrupted.

The Korea Meteorological Administration forecast more rainfall through to Wednesday next week. It warned that the weather conditions pose a “grave” danger.

Extreme rain has caused floods and landslides across several countries – including India, China and Japan – over the past fortnight.

While many factors contribute to flooding, scientists say a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.

The warmer it becomes, the more moisture the atmosphere can hold, resulting in more droplets and heavier rainfall, sometimes in a shorter space of time and over a smaller area.


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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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