Seoul, Jul 18 (EFE).- The heavy monsoon downpours that have hit South Korea since last week continued on Tuesday with at least 43 people dead and nine missing.
The rains persisted Tuesday morning across the country, with South Jeolla and Gyeonggi provinces recording 30-60 millimeters of rain per hour, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
Some residents in South Jeolla and the neighboring city of Gwangju had to be evacuated Tuesday due to the risk of landslides, and in total around 5,000 people have not yet been able to return to their homes in various parts of the country, according to the latest data from the disasters and emergency countermeasures command.
The province of North Gyeongsang has recorded the most fatalities – 21, the majority due to landslides – and there are also six missing, all residents of the town of Yecheon (270 kilometers southeast from Seoul).
On the other hand, rescue teams finished draining the tunnel in the city of Cheongju (about 100 km south of the capital) in which 17 vehicles were trapped on Saturday due to a flash flood that occurred when the nearby Miho river burst its banks.
In total, 14 people died in the tunnel, and an investigation is underway into why it remained open to traffic despite the fact that alerts had been issued about the possibility of the Miho overflowing and that the emergency services received two calls advising that the tunnel was filling with water in the two hours prior to the tragedy.
More than 30,000 hectares of agricultural land has been damaged by flooding and nearly 700,000 farm animals have died, mostly poultry, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
More than 180 highways remain closed and only two of the 11 long-distance train lines are open, although five of the seven national high-speed rail lines have resumed operations.
The KMA forecasts that the rains will continue in much of the country until early Wednesday, but warns that in the northern regions, the storms may intensify again Wednesday night into Thursday. EFE