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41 dead, 9 missing from torrential rain as of Tuesday morning

Torrential rains leave at least 41 dead, 9 missing as search and rescue operations continue across the country

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : July 17, 2023 - 12:34

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Army soldiers remove mud left after monsoon rains that had been pouring since Saturday at a house in Cheongyang-gun, South Chungcheong Province, Monday. (Yonhap) Army soldiers remove mud left after monsoon rains that had been pouring since Saturday at a house in Cheongyang-gun, South Chungcheong Province, Monday. (Yonhap)

Flooding and landslides due to heavy monsoon rains in South Korea have caused dozens of casualties, while over 10,000 residents have been forced to evacuate, South Korean authorities said Monday.

As the death toll continues to rise, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has confirmed that at least 41 people have died as of Tuesday 6 a.m.

The total number of deaths includes 14 people who died in a flooded tunnel in the central South Korean city of Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province. Five bodies were found in the flooded Gungpyeong 2 underpass in Cheongju, increasing the death toll of the incident from nine since Sunday.

Among the 12 missing person reports received by the police, all 12 individuals have been confirmed as victims after officials discovered the body of the final person late Monday. Two of the deceased from the tunnel were not reported missing.

Fire authorities have concluded their drainage and search operations in the flooded tunnel with the retrieval of the body of the last missing person.

A total of 17 vehicles -- including a public bus and two trucks -- that had been trapped in the 430-meter-long low-lying tunnel were recovered as of Monday. The flooding of the tunnel began Saturday morning following the collapse of a bank of the nearby Miho River. Nine survivors were rescued after the tunnel flooded.

According to the ministry, 19 people in North Gyeongsang Province, four in South Chungcheong Province, and one in the city of Sejong have died as of Monday morning due to days of record rainfall.

Nine people, including one in Busan and eight in North Gyeongsang Province, are still missing as of Monday, and 35 people have been injured.

But as search and rescue operations continue in heavily affected areas and the devastated village of Yecheon County in North Gyeongsang Province, the number of casualties from the nationwide torrential rains is likely to increase.

The number of people evacuated has also reached 10,976 people from 6,532 households as heavy rains continued overnight in the southern part of the country. Thousands of them have yet to return to their homes out of concern over the possibility of additional damages.

Nationwide, hundreds of instances of public facility damage were reported, including river embankment collapses, road damage, and falling rocks and landslides. Several hundreds of private houses were also damaged, with 186 houses submerged and 52 of them reported to be destroyed or lost.

Crops on more than 26,933 hectares of farmland have been damaged or flooded, and more than 180 hectares of agricultural land have experienced facility damage or have been swept away. According to the ministry, about 579,000 livestock -- including cows, pigs and chickens -- have perished as of Monday.

The Korea Railroad Corporation, KORAIL, announced on Monday that it would gradually resume operations of some regular trains. The maximum speed of the train, however, is limited to 80 kilometers per hour, considering the weather and condition of the railway. Also, train services to flood-affected areas, including the railway line serving North Chungcheong Province, will be suspended for a month or possibly longer.