The ruling Saenuri Party and the government are to take steps to uncover the causes and prevent further occurrences of sinkholes, officials said following a government-ruling party meeting on Thursday.
“The meeting was organized to ease the public’s concerns. Fundamental measures to address the issue will be drawn up in the near future,” Rep. Joo Ho-young, the chief of the Saenuri Party policy committee, told the local media ahead of the meeting.
In addition to the sinkholes and underground hollows, a number of potholes have been discovered in Gyeonggi Province, Daegu and other areas, fueling even more concerns over the issue, the ruling party said in a statement.
Along with Joo, who organized the meeting, ruling party lawmakers on related parliamentary committees and deputy chiefs of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Environment attended the meeting.
Sinkholes have become a growing concern in recent months after a section of a busy road near the Seokchon tunnel roadway in southern Seoul collapsed. The sinkhole is thought to have been caused by an ongoing subway construction project.
According to Environment Ministry data submitted to the Saenuri Party’s Rep. Jasmine Lee, 53 sinkholes have appeared in various locations across the country since 2012. According to the data, 41 of the 53 sinkholes found throughout Korea since 2012 were caused by leaks in underground pipes.
Since 2012, eight sinkholes have been found in Seoul.
Earlier this week, five large underground hollows were discovered underneath one of Seoul’s road tunnels. The newly found cavities are located only meters away from two similar cavities discovered earlier this month below the Seokchon tunnel roadway in eastern Seoul.
According to experts, the hollows could cause the road to collapse and create a massive sinkhole that could kill hundreds. The previously discovered holes were up to 5 meters deep, while those found on Monday were up to 2.3 meters deep.
The cavities have been partly filled with cement as an emergency measure to a prevent collapse, and nearby areas are being investigated for additional holes. Parts of the Seokchon tunnel roadway have been fenced off.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)