April 20, 2024 5:47 am
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Devastating Deluge: Death Toll Climbs to 37 as South Korea Grapples with Severe Flooding

Rescuers Fight Against Time to Save Trapped Victims in South Korean Flooded Tunnel

Severe floods and landslides caused by heavy rains have wreaked havoc in South Korea, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least 37 people, while nine others remain missing. The country, currently in the midst of its summer monsoon season, has experienced incessant rainfall over the past four days, causing a major dam to overflow.

The interior ministry has reported that most of the casualties were either buried by landslides or submerged when they fell into a flooded reservoir. Rescue teams, faced with treacherous conditions, have been tirelessly working to reach over 10 cars and an unknown number of individuals trapped in a 430-meter underground tunnel located in Cheongju, North Chungcheong province.

Despite their efforts, the tunnel remains flooded, obstructing search and rescue operations. The Yonhap news agency informs that the tunnel was inundated on Saturday when floodwaters surged in uncontrollably, leaving vehicles with no means of escape.

“I have no hope but I can’t leave,” expressed a distressed parent of one of the missing victims. “My heart wrenches thinking how painful it must have been for my son in the cold water,” the parent continued, conveying a sense of anguish.

Television footage showcased a powerful torrent of water from a nearby river bursting its banks and rushing into the tunnel. Rescue personnel struggled to navigate boats and reach those trapped inside.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is currently abroad, held an urgent meeting with his advisors to address the government’s response to the disaster. Earlier, President Yeol instructed Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to mobilize all available resources to minimize casualties.

The majority of the fatalities, comprising 19 deceased and eight missing individuals, were reported in North Gyeongsang province. This particular region experienced massive landslides in its mountainous terrain, engulfing inhabited houses. The interior ministry explained that some of the missing individuals were swept away when a river overflowed its banks. Over 1,500 people have been unable to return home after being evacuated from their residences.

The Korea Meteorological Administration has forecasted more heavy rain until Wednesday and has urged the public to refrain from venturing outdoors.

Last year, South Korea faced record-breaking rainfall and flooding that claimed the lives of over 11 people. Among the victims were three individuals who tragically perished in a Seoul basement apartment, reminiscent of the living conditions depicted in the internationally acclaimed Korean film “Parasite.” The government, at that time, attributed the extreme weather to climate change, stating that it was the heaviest rainfall the city had experienced in the past 115 years.

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