Helped by sound detectors, rescuers located four more survivors under a shopping mall’s rubble today, nearly 11-1/2 days after the building caved in on more than 1,000 people.
Officials at the Home Ministry said the four were found alive in a pocket in the basement level about 1:50 p.m. local time. Their location was confirmed through voice contact.
The officials identified one survivor as Yoo Ji-hwan, a 19-year-old female sales clerk at the Sampoong Department Store, which caved in June 29.
The four were discovered near where a 21-year-old man was pulled out alive two days earlier - a location officials considered the least likely to contain survivors.
All ground work - cranes and other heavy equipment - immediately stopped so they could be rescued with hand tools, including torches and hoes.
National television went live to broadcast the rescues. The state-run KBS TV said about one hour would be needed to bring them out. Bottles of mineral water and towels were delivered to them through a hole.
KBS said voice contact was established first with Yoo, who said three people were alive around her. It was not immediately clear how they survived without water, but another survivor reported drinking rainwater.
The death toll stood at 207 Tuesday, and roughly today others remained unaccounted for from the Sampoong Department Store disaster.
After heavy downpours forced a temporary delay in rescue efforts Monday, U.S. military experts searched with sound detectors in what had been a five-story wing of the shopping complex.
Before the most recent four, the latest survivor found, Choi Myong-suk, a 21-year-old part-time sales clerk, was rescued alive in the remains of the basement Sunday.
Choi said he survived in a 4-foot-wide pocket on a trickle of rainwater and by eating cardboard. Doctors said he was in “miraculously good health.”
Rescue workers were encouraged because Choi was found where it appeared there was no chance of life.
Choi was found by chance. A rescue worker, digging through a concrete slab with a power drill, heard a faint voice appealing for help: “Save me. Please save me. Water. Quickly.”
Shoddy construction and disregard of safety standards were blamed for the cave-in.