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(LEAD) 2 dead, 37 injured in multiple expressway pileups

All News 17:04 February 17, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES lead, headline, dateline and details throughout)

JEONJU/NAMWON, South Korea, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- At least two people were killed and 37 others injured in two expressway pileups in the country's southwestern region following heavy snow, authorities said Monday.

The accident occurred as around 20 vehicles piled up on a snowy road at 12:23 p.m. in a tunnel on a highway connecting Suncheon and Wanju in North Jeolla Province, according to police and fire authorities.

In a separate case, five other cars piled up in a tunnel several hundred meters away from the accident site.

The weather agency has issued snow warnings or alerts across the country, with Jeonju in North Jeolla Province receiving 5.5 cm of snow.

Six of the 37 hurt are known to have suffered serious injuries.

Police have sealed the accident site and rescue efforts are under way, but casualties are expected to rise as a tank truck carrying chemicals caught on fire, causing a toxic gas leak.

The truck was reportedly carrying sodium hydroxide, which absorbs water and produces heat when exposed to air.

"Rescue efforts are quite tough as black gas has covered the accident site," a police officer said. "(It seems that) the exact scope of the damage can be confirmed after the fire is extinguished."

This photo, provided by a reader, shows the site of the pileup that occurred on a highway connecting Suncheon and Wanju in North Jeolla Province on Feb. 17, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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