West News Wire: In a highway tunnel in the South Korean capital of Seoul, officials said that a freight truck colliding with a bus resulted in a fire that left at least five people dead and 37 injured.
On Thursday, the cause of the crash, the fire, and the contents the truck was hauling were not immediately known.
At approximately 1:50 p.m. (04:50 GMT), the vehicles crashed in an expressway tunnel in Gwacheon, according to a fire department official who spoke to the AFP news agency.
According to fire officials, the incident happened within a highway tunnel with a noise barrier. Buildings nearby will be shielded from noise from the road by the higher tunnel.
34 of the injured had minor injuries, while three were in serious condition, according to the National Fire Agency.
Enormous plumes of fire and thick smoke were seen coming from the tunnel in images posted on local and social media.
Hundreds of firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control.
“We are doing a search inside the tunnel in case of additional casualties,” a fire official said.
About 20 people are being treated for smoke inhalation, he added.
Interior minister Lee Sang-min called for “maximum resources deployed” to save lives, the Yonhap news agency reported.
“I urge the authorities to put out the best efforts to save the lives of those who have not escaped,” he said.
In October, at least 153 people were killed in a Halloween crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon nightlife district.
A series of preventable disasters including Itaewon and the Sewol ferry sinking which killed more than 300 people in 2014 has shaken public confidence. Many South Koreans have questioned whether safety standards were sidelined and regulations ignored in the government’s rush for development.