© Reuters. Rescue workers take part in a search and rescue operation at an underpass that has been submerged by an flooded river caused by torrential rain in Cheongju, South Korea, July 16, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
SEOUL (Reuters) – Five bodies of people who were trapped under a tunnel submerged by heavy rains in central South Korea were pulled out on Sunday, firefighting authorities said, taking the death toll from the days of torrential rains that pounded the country to 31.
The five people were found from a bus that has been submerged at a flooded underpass in Cheongju on Saturday after rescue workers began underwater search operations early Sunday, officials said.
The Ministry of Interior and Safety earlier said 26 people have died and 10 were missing as of 6 a.m. (2100 GMT on Saturday) as the heavy rains caused landslides and floods across the country, with evacuation covering 7,540 people.
The casualties from the flooded tunnel were not included in the ministry’s data as it was not immediately clear how many people and cars were trapped underwater.
“We are focusing on the search operation as there’s likely more people there,” Seo Jeong-il, head of the west Cheongju fire station, told reporters.
President Yoon Suk Yeol, now on an overseas trip, ordered Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to mobilise all available resources to minimise the casualties, his office said, as more heavy rain was expected on the Korean peninsula on Sunday.