Rescuers in Seoul battle to save six workers trapped in underground reservoir

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 6:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 9:01pm

South Korean rescuers on Tuesday were trying to save six workers - three of whom are Chinese citizens – trapped in a flooded underground reservoir in Seoul.

The six had been working in the water distribution reservoir in Noryangjin when it became flooded following heavy rains, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Water from the swollen Han River, which passes through Seoul, flooded the reservoir on Monday. It killed one worker and trapped six others in a tunnel, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Office of Waterworks said.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said the incident had been totally unexpected. “We will co-operate with relevant agencies to find the exact cause of the accident and make sure this never happens again,” he said via social media.

At the time of the flooding, the workers had been removing old water pipes at the bottom of the reservoir – some 25 metres under the ground. Officials said the workers had not followed safety regulations. These require them to evacuate the reservoir when water levels of the Han River or the nearby Paldang Dam rise.

Fire fighters, police officers and officials have been searching for the missing workers since Monday. Officials said they had stabilised water discharge levels at the Paldang Dam to help rescue efforts.