(CTN NEWS) – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol attributed the rising death toll of 40, resulting from days of heavy rainfall, to authorities’ failure to adhere to disaster response protocols.
The torrential rains have relentlessly battered the central and southern regions of the country since Thursday, coinciding with the peak of the rainy season that commenced in late June.
As per the interior ministry’s report, nine individuals are still missing, and 34 have sustained injuries across the nation.
Within the central city of Cheongju, twelve fatalities occurred, with three bodies recovered overnight, in a tunnel.
The tragic incident unfolded on Saturday when a flash flood engulfed 16 vehicles, including a bus, following the collapse of a river levee. Nine others were injured.
South Korean President Urges Improved Disaster Response Amid Concerns Over Flooding Preparedness
The incident has raised concerns regarding South Korea’s preparedness and response to flooding disasters, particularly since some regular users of the road accused the government of negligence for not prohibiting access to the submerged underpass despite widespread flood forecasts.
In recent years, floods have claimed numerous lives during the rainy seasons, reflecting the increasingly extreme weather patterns.
Last year, following the heaviest downpours in 115 years that inundated Seoul, including the upscale Gangnam district, resulting in at least 14 fatalities and extensive flooding of subways, roads, and residences, the government pledged to take measures to better address climate change-induced disasters.
Calls for Enhanced Management of Vulnerable Areas and Swift Rescue Operations
Upon returning from an international trip, President Yoon called for an inter-agency meeting on disaster response and highlighted that the situation was exacerbated by inadequate management of vulnerable areas.
He emphasized the importance of controlling access to hazardous locations and implementing preemptive evacuations, which have been reiterated since the previous year.
President Yoon expressed the difficulty of ensuring public safety if the fundamental principles of disaster response are not upheld on the ground.
He urged authorities to exert their utmost efforts in rescuing victims and pledged support for recovery efforts and affected families, including the designation of flood-affected areas as special disaster zones.
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