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This photo of a fire on an expressway in Gwacheon on Dec. 29, 2022 is provided by a news reader. Yonhap
30 Dec 2022

Rapid vehicle fire development in Seoul highway tunnel

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This photo of a fire on an expressway in Gwacheon on Dec. 29, 2022 is provided by a news reader. YonhapFive people died and 37 were injured in a highway tunnel fire south of Seoul on Thursday. The fire spread quickly through the tunnel and trapped drivers inside. 

A collision between two vehicles occurred in a noise barrier tunnel along an expressway in Gwacheon, South Korea, according to local fire authorities. 

Below in this post we have included two video news clips from this incident.  

As reported by The Korea Times, the fire occurred at 1:49 pm local time. Initial findings indicated that the fire started after a bus and a truck collided. The fire quickly spread in the tunnel, causing large clouds of flames and smoke.

Rescue teams found five people dead inside vehicles, including those involved in the collision. Rescuers initially put the death toll at six, but later corrected it to five, saying one victim was counted twice.

Thirty-seven people sustained injuries, mostly from smoke inhalation. Although most injuries were light, three people sustained serious injuries. Some victims also sustained burns.

According to ABC News, it wasn’t immediately known what caused the collision and fire, or what cargo the truck was carrying.

 

This photo of a fire on an expressway in Gwacheon on Dec. 29, 2022 is provided by a news reader. Yonhap
These photos of the fire on an expressway in Gwacheon on Dec. 29, 2022 were provided by local Korean news readers and published in the Korea Times newspaper. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol instructed the government to thoroughly search the site of the accident to ensure there are no additional casualties and to provide full medical assistance to those who were rescued, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung.

Yoon also called for a thorough analysis of the cause of incident.  Measures will be also be implemented to prevent a recurrence of similar accidents. An immediate inspection of noise tunnels and similar facilities will be conducted, Lee said.

The authorities said the death toll could rise further depending on the outcome of the rescue operation.

Facts regarding the number of firefighters participating in the rescue and extinguishing operation differ somewhat between various news media.  According to The Korea Times, a total of 94 fire trucks, 219 fire personnel and several helicopters were sent to the scene.  According to SVT.se, around 100 firefighters participated in the rescue operation.  CNA (see video below) say 140 firefighters were involved and that more than 90 fire trucks were sent to the scene. 

The fire allegedly destroyed 44 vehicles and the highway experienced heavy traffic when the collision occurred.  According to an eye witness who was interviewed on local TV channel YTV,  the heavy traffic made it difficult to evacuate the highway.   

The fire was allegedly completely extinguished at 4:12 p.m. local time.