SEOUL, South Korea – Thousands of rescuers used heavy machinery and shovels today to clear mud and search for survivors after huge landslides and flooding killed at least 44 people in South Korea.
Five others were reported missing in the wake of the massive rains that have pounded Seoul and surrounding areas since Tuesday. It was the heaviest rainfall in South Korea this year.
Among the dead were 10 college students who were engulfed by a landslide while sleeping in a resort cabin in Chuncheon, north of Seoul. The students from Inha University in Incheon, just west of Seoul, were volunteering at a local elementary school.
Hundreds of firefighters and others rushed to rescue those believed trapped and pull the dead from the mud and wreckage in Chuncheon, but they stopped their rescue work on Wednesday evening after it became apparent no one else was missing. Today, about 970 workers were cleaning up the mud in the area, where 24 others were also injured and several buildings destroyed by the landslide, officials said.
At least 16 people died after mud crashed through homes at the foot of a mountain in southern Seoul. The National Emergency Management Agency reported 15 more deaths due to a stream flooding and landslides in towns near Seoul.
On Thursday, about 5,000 firefighters, soldiers, police officers and others mobilized to try to find any survivors and clean walls of mud piled in residential areas near Seoul’s Womyeon Mountain, emergency official Kim Wu-min said.
About 7,500 others were working in Dongducheon, a city just north of Seoul, for a similar rescue and clean-up mission, he said.
The rainfall left about 4,940 people homeless, flooded about 1,380 houses and caused power outage in 126,280 houses throughout South Korea, the National Emergency Management Agency said.
About 17 inches of rain fell on Seoul and more than 13 inches on Chuncheon on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the state-run Korea Meteorological Administration.
Rainfall stopped or decreased in many parts of Seoul and its surrounding areas today, but weather officials said South Korea would receive more rain until Friday morning.