Five killed, 43 injured in separate pileupsFive people were killed and 43 others injured Monday in two highway pileups in southwestern Korea following heavy snow, authorities said on Tuesday.
Those injured have been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. At least six of the 43 hurt were said to be in critical condition.
The first accident occurred at 12:23 p.m. when a tank truck carrying nitric acid reportedly ran into a small pile of cars involved in an earlier accident inside a tunnel on a highway connecting Suncheon and Wanju in North Jeolla.
About a dozen other vehicles ran into the truck, which had spilled its load and caught fire, according to police and rescue officials.
Rescue officials said they found the fifth victim under a collapsed vehicle while carrying out a further search at 2:16 p.m. The identity of the victim has not yet been confirmed.
The fourth victim was found at around 1:10 a.m. in one of the cars near the tank truck. The third victim was found in a car crushed under the tank truck.
The exact cause of the accident has yet to be identified, but the officials note the truck and the other cars may have skidded on snow or ice patches on the road.
“We are still unable to determine the exact cause of the accident, but the road near the accident site was far more slippery than usual due to heavy snow that began early in the morning,” a police official said.
The area near the site of the accident received about 5.9 centimeters (2.3 inches) of snow as of 1 p.m. on Monday, as the entire nation was under snow warning or alert.
The second accident took place almost simultaneously with the first one, inside another tunnel located just a few hundred meters from the site of the first accident, according to the police.
The police had to completely shut down the tunnels, partly due to a large number of vehicles piled up inside but also because of toxic gas coming from the fire.
“Rescue efforts are quite tough as black smoke has covered the accident site,” a police officer said.
Rescue officials plan to resume investigation and further search the site on Tuesday.