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More than 30 dead as floods, landslides engulf South Korea

South Korean rescue workers pulled six bodies from vehicles trapped in a flooded tunnel, as days of heavy rain triggered flash floods and landslides and destroyed homes, leaving more than 30 people dead and forcing thousands to evacuate, officials said Sunday.

Nearly 400 rescue workers, including divers, were searching the tunnel in the central city of Cheongju, where around 15 vehicles, including a bus, got swept away in a flash flood Saturday evening, Seo Jeong-il, chief of the city's fire department, said in a briefing.

Nine survivors were rescued from the tunnel, but the total number of passengers trapped in vehicles wasn't immediately clear, Seo said.

South Korea Weather
Rescue workers search for people in a house collapsed following a landslide caused by heavy rain in Yeongju, South Korea, Saturday, July 15, 2023. (Gyeongbuk Fire Station Service Headquarters via Yonhap AP) AP

South Korea has been pounded by heavy rains since July 9. The rainfall had forced nearly 6,000 people to evacuate and left 27,260 households without electricity in the past several days while flooding or destroying dozens of homes, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.

The bodies pulled from the vehicles in Cheongju weren't immediately reflected in the ministry's official death toll, which was 26 as of Sunday morning.

South Korea's weather agency said some parts of the country will continue to receive heavy rain. President Yoon Suk Yeol, who was visiting Ukraine on Saturday, asked Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to mobilize all available resources to respond to the disaster, according to Yoon's office.

Last year, the heaviest rainfall in 80 years left nine people dead in Seoul. 

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