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Heavy rains, flooding leave 22 dead in South Korea

At least 22 people have died and 14 more are missing after heavy rain caused flooding and land-slides in South Korea, with thousands more ordered to evacuate their homes.

South Korea is at the peak of its summer morn-soon season and there has been heavy rainfall for the last three days, triggering widespread flooding and landslides, and causing a major dam to overflow.

The interior ministry reported that 22 people had been killed and another 14 were missing in the heavy downpours, mostly buried by landslides or after falling into a flooded reservoir.

The majority of the casualties including 16 dead and nine missing come from North Gyeongsang province, largely due to massive landslides in the mountainous area that engulfed houses with people inside.

More than 6,400 residents in the central county of Goesan were ordered to evacuate early Saturday as the Goesan Dam began overflowing and submerging low-lying villages nearby, the interior ministry said.

Some of the people who have been reported missing were swept away when a river overflowed in North Gyeongsang province, the ministry said.

Rescue workers were battling to reach some 19 cars trapped in a 430-metre-long underground tunnel in Cheongju, North Chungcheong province, according to the interior ministry.

One person was found dead, and nine people were rescued from a bus after flash flooding swept through the tunnel too quickly for people to escape, Yonhap reported.

Water levels remained high and it is unclear how many people were trapped inside their vehicles, they added.

All regular train services nationwide were suspended as of 2 pm (0500 GMT), although KTX high-speed trains remained operational with potential schedule adjustments, according to the Korea Railroad Corporation.

Roads were closed and trails in national parks shut due to the rain and flooding.

The Korea Meteorological Administration issued heavy rain warnings, saying more rain was forecast through to Wednesday next week, saying the weather conditions pose a “grave” danger.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo urged officials to preempt river overflows and landslides, and requested support for rescue operations from the defence ministry.

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Comfort Samuel

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