South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (R) consoles the representative of the bereaved family members of the victims who died on a submerged underground road at a memorial altar set up at the North Chungcheong provincial government in Cheongju, around 110 kilometers south of Seoul, 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT

South Korea investigates 6 police officers over deadly underpass flooding

Seoul, Jul 21 (EFE).- The South Korean government is investigating six police officers for their possible negligence in a deadly flooding of an underpass in the central city of Cheongju last week that claimed 14 lives.

Police investigators examine an underground roadway in the town of Osong, Cheongju, South Korea, 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT

The Office for Government Policy Coordination said an inspection to determine the causes behind the tragic flooding has found “criminal suspicions” involving these police officers.

The coordination office said that it has found “serious errors” by the officers handling the 112 emergency calls before the tragedy in the town, located 112 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The coordination body said at least two emergency calls requesting the evacuation and roadblock in the underpass were made to the local police over two hours before the flood trapped 17 vehicles including a city bus in the tunnel.

The underground roadway was flooded on Saturday after the waters from the Miho River overflowed its banks due to days of torrential rainfall.

Authorities said the police officers were also being investigated over submitting a falsified report to the prime minister’s office about how they dealt with the emergency during the flooding.

Last year, around 160 people died and 82 were injured in a stampede at a crowded nightlife area in a narrow street in the Itaewon district of Seoul during Halloween celebrations.

Later investigation found that several hours before the stampede, local police had received up to 11 calls through the 112 hotline but failed to take any action to prevent the tragedy. EFE