South Korea floods: Rescuers struggle to reach cars in submerged Cheongju tunnel

  • By Christy Cooney & Jaroslav Lukiv
  • BBC News

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Search and rescue operations continue in a flooded tunnel in Cheongju

After days of heavy rain in South Korea, efforts are underway to rescue cars stuck in flooded tunnels.

It was not clear how many people were trapped, but about 19 vehicles were reported to be in the tunnel in Cheongju, North Chungcheong province.

Across the country, at least 22 people are known to have been killed and 14 are missing.

Most of the deaths were in the mountainous North Gyeongsang region, where landslides washed away houses.

Aerial images taken from the flooded areas show brown mud and flood waters so deep that only the tops of roofs can be seen sticking out.

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

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that fire officials said the subway in the suburb of Osong in Cheongju flooded too quickly for drivers and passengers to escape.

One death has been confirmed and nine others have been rescued.

Around 6,400 residents were evacuated early Saturday morning local time after the Gosan Dam began to overflow, the agency said.

Several low-lying villages near the dam and several roads connecting them were submerged, leaving some residents trapped in their homes.

The country’s national rail operator, Gorail, announced the suspension of all slow trains and some bullet trains, while other bullet services would be disrupted.

The Korea Meteorological Administration has predicted more rain until Wednesday next week. It warned that weather conditions could pose a “severe” risk.

The warmer it gets, the more moisture the atmosphere can hold.

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WATCH: Landslides and floods wreak havoc in South Korea

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