South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has ordered an all-out rescue and restoration effort after days of torrential rains unleashed devastating floods and landslides that killed no less than 39 individuals.
The loss of life toll on Monday included 13 people found dead in a submerged underpass within the central metropolis of Cheongju in North Chungcheong Province.
Yoon, on his return to Seoul following a visit to Ukraine, convened an intra-agency assembly on the catastrophe response and referred to as for authorities to make the utmost effort to rescue victims.
“There isn’t a solution to suppress my disappointment. I pray for the souls of these killed within the heavy rains and provide phrases of consolation to the bereaved households,” the president mentioned.
“All of us have to take the state of affairs gravely and mobilise all accessible assets.”
Yoon additionally pledged assist for restoration work, together with designating affected areas as particular catastrophe zones.
South Korea, which is on the peak of its summer season monsoon season, has been battered by heavy rains since July 9. The downpours have triggered widespread flooding and landslides, largely within the nation’s central and southern areas.
In Cheongju, rescue employees pulled 4 extra our bodies in a single day from a tunnel the place some 16 automobiles, together with a bus, had been swamped by a flash flood after a levee of a close-by river collapsed.
One other 9 our bodies had been pulled out of the tunnel on Saturday.
Search engine optimization Jeong-il, chief of town’s hearth division, mentioned 9 survivors had been rescued from the tunnel and that the precise variety of passengers trapped in automobiles was not instantly clear.
Hearth officers estimated the tunnel stuffed with water in as little as two or three minutes. Almost 900 rescue personnel, together with divers, had been dispatched to the scene the place photographs and movies confirmed employees establishing a fringe and pumping brown water out of the tunnel.
Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington, reporting from Cheongju, mentioned the search effort was “nonetheless very a lot underneath method”.
“When it comes to progress, many of the water has been drained from the tunnel. A few of the elements hampering the rescue course of has been heavy mud, whereas the central elements of the tunnel, nonetheless has waist-high water,” she mentioned. “Many residents listed here are starting to ask laborious questions of the native officers, together with why this underpass has been open regardless of the extreme climate.”
The Korea Meteorological Administration, in the meantime, issued extra heavy rain warnings for the encircling province in addition to southern elements of the nation.
It mentioned the central and southern provinces had been more likely to obtain an extra 100mm to 200mm of rain by Tuesday evening.
The Yonhap information company, citing catastrophe authorities, mentioned the best loss of life toll was recorded within the southeastern North Gyeongsang Province, the place 19 individuals died, largely as a consequence of large landslides that engulfed homes with individuals inside.
9 individuals stay lacking, together with eight in North Gyeongsang, whereas 34 individuals have been reported injured, it mentioned.
Throughout the nation, the rains compelled the evacuation of some 10,570 individuals from their houses and left 28,607 households with out electrical energy, it added.
Yoon, talking on the catastrophe response assembly, mentioned, “This type of excessive climate occasion will develop into commonplace.” South Koreans “should settle for local weather change is going on and cope with it,” he mentioned.
The concept that excessive climate linked to local weather change “is an anomaly and may’t be helped must be utterly overhauled”, he added, calling for “extraordinary willpower” to enhance the nation’s preparedness and response.
South Korea is commonly hit by flooding through the summer season monsoon interval however the nation is often well-prepared and the loss of life toll is normally comparatively low.
It endured record-breaking rains and flooding final yr, which killed no less than 11 individuals. They included three individuals trapped in a Seoul semi-basement condo of the sort that grew to become internationally recognized due to the Oscar-winning Korean movie Parasite.
The South Korean authorities mentioned on the time the 2022 flooding was the heaviest rainfall since Seoul’s climate information started 115 years in the past.