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“Trapped for More Than 36 Hours”: Rescuers Desperately Searching For Survivors In Flooded South Korea Tunnel


9 survivors have been rescued with injuries and 9 bodies have been recovered from the site.

In a harrowing rescue operation against the clock, nearly 400 rescue workers, including divers, are currently engaged in a desperate search for survivors in a flooded tunnel near the central city of Cheongju, South Korea. This disaster comes as part of a series of tragic incidents resulting from relentless heavy rainfall that has plagued the country since July 9th.

Rescuers near the tunnel. | Reuters

Late Saturday morning, an underpass in Cheongju became an unintended death trap when the Miho riverbank collapsed due to heavy rains, and floodwaters rushed in. A bus and 14 other vehicles were engulfed in the deluge, leaving those inside with no immediate means of escape, according to CCTV footage from the underpass. The exact number of people still unaccounted for remains unknown.

The completely submerged underpass in Cheongju. | Yonhap

Local fire department chief Seo Jeong Il reported that nine individuals had been rescued so far, with many sustaining injuries. But as of Sunday evening, the death toll had also risen to nine at the tunnel site alone.

Rescuers diving to search for survivors. | Reuters

As rescue teams continued to drain the tunnel of flood water — pumping out 80,000 liters per minute — at 4:33 AM on Sunday, the top of the bus became visible, and rescuers were able to search the trapped interior. Unfortunately, five bodies were recovered from the vehicle, including a woman in her 70s.

We are trying our best right now, although it is difficult since the site is covered in mud.

— Fire Departament Chief, Seo Jeong Il

The recovered electric bus. | Reuters

The incident has also ignited outrage among locals. Despite flood warnings having been issued about four hours prior to the flooding, there were no signs or measures in place to stop traffic entering the underpass. An anonymous survivor of the flooding questioned the lack of preventative measures.

[It’s] impossible to understand why there wasn’t anyone controlling traffic near the entrance to the underpass.

— Anonymous Survivor

The underpass after a significant amount of water got pumped out of it. | Reuters

A growing number of onlookers are calling this incident a “human-made disaster,” blaming authorities’ slow response and lack of preventative measures. The tunnel is located a mere 600 meters away from the Miho River.

This disaster is just one of many due to the heavy rain. The death toll nationwide has now risen to 37 people, with 9 more still deemed missing. Approximately 8,000 individuals from 4,600 households in 90 different cities, counties, or districts have been forced to evacuate. Tragically, as the rain continues to pour, most of these individuals are unable to return home.

Emergency workers searching for survivors after a small village in Yecheon suffered a deadly landslide. | Yonhap

Prime Minister Han Duck Soo has called upon the military to assist in ongoing rescue operations, while President Yoon Suk Yeol has instructed the Prime Minister to mobilize all available resources to address the disaster.

While authorities and rescuers struggle to cope, the heartbreaking search for survivors in the flooded tunnel continues, marking a poignant symbol of the devastating impacts of this unprecedented rainfall in South Korea.

Content Source: www.koreaboo.com


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