Houses are flooded after torrential rain in the central city of Cheongju, South Korea 15 July 2023. EFE-EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT

At least 22 dead, dozens missing in South Korea monsoon rains

Seoul, July 15 (EFE).- Heavy monsoon rains in South Korea have left at least 22 dead with dozens of people missing, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands, said officials on Saturday.

A baseball park is submerged by torrential rain in the central city of Sejong, South Korea 15 July 2023. EFE-EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT

Authorities fear that there may be more casualties due to landslides and a tunnel flooded with several cars inside in the central part of the country.

According to the disaster management authority, most of the fatalities were caused by landslides, with 16 deaths reported in the eastern province of North Gyeongsang and six others in southwest Chungcheong.

In Cheongju, a town located about 100 km from Seoul, one person drowned due to the flooding of a tunnel.

An interchange of the Olympic Road along the swollen Han River is blocked following torrential rain, in Seoul, South Korea, 14 July 2023. EFE-EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT

Firefighters managed to rescue nine people trapped in their vehicles in the flooded tunnel.

However, authorities feared there could be more casualties in the tunnel, as at least 11 people, holed up in the dozen or so vehicles inside the passage, remain missing.

In Chungju and the nearby county of Goesan, around 6,400 residents were evacuated due to the overflowing of the main dam in the area.

Over 4,700 people are sheltered in other parts of South Korea, where more than 130 roads are closed, and all railway services in the central part of the country are suspended, except for some high-speed trains.

Power cuts have also been reported in several regions.

Some 8,300 households are without electricity in North Gyeongsang, where at least nine people are missing.

The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) has issued the highest alert for rainfall throughout the country, with a particular warning on the central and southwestern regions.

The weather department has warned that heavy precipitation will continue until Wednesday. EFE