UPDATE: Complete Japanese earthquake and tsunami information can be found at this posting.
There has been a tragic natural disaster on Korea’s west coast:
Eight tourists are dead and 14 others are missing after tidal waves struck a ferry boat pier in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province on Sunday.
About 20 tourists were swept away by strong waves from the pier in Jukdo Island in Nampo-myeon, some 180 kilometers southwest of Seoul at around 12:40 on Sunday afternoon. Seven of them were found dead. Thirteen others were injured and are being treated in a nearby hospital.
Death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured are in serious condition.
The victims were fishing or sightseeing around the pier and a breakwater when they were struck by strong waves.
Police say about 50 people were swept away by the sudden tsunami, but 27 of them were rescued by fishing boats in the area.
Police patrol boats and coast guard vessels are searching the waters for the missing. Police suspect that more people may be missing.
A high wave warning was not isssued for the area. [KBS Global]
Here is more details from the Korea Times that puts the death toll at nine, to include two children:
Witnesses said that a tidal wave hit anglers and tourists on the structure and nearby rocks.
“The sea water receded at once like an ebb tide and then a high wave smashed into the breakwater and rocks sweeping anglers and tourists into sea,” a witness said.
Another witness, Koh Myung-rae, who runs a restaurant at the scene said, “I rushed out of my home at the thundering sound and heard screaming. I saw some bodies floating in the sea.” He said it was the first time for him to see such a disaster during his 20 years of doing business there.
Why So Sudden, High Wave
Kim Ki-deok, a 45-year-old resident in the area, said that the high tidal wave abruptly hit anglers and tourists. “The high wave came so suddenly from a relatively calm sea and swept dozens of people off the breakwater.”
The wave, which subsided about 10 minutes after hitting the coast at 12.41 p.m., pulled nearly 50 people into the sea. Fishing boats on the scene rescued about 30 people right after the incident.
Criticism has risen about a poor warning system. The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) failed to issue any alerts on high waves. [Korea Times]
People naturally have a tendency to blame the government, but I don’t know how you can blame the government for not warning people of a tidal wave when it was created in absence of a earthquake. It seems it was just a tragic natural disaster which has happened before in Korea. In both 1983 and 1993 the east coast of Korea was hit by tidal waves before but they were created by underwater earthquakes which provided some forewarning unlike this tidal wave on the west coast.
Hopefully the fishermen that rescued so many people are recognized because it seems like they saved a lot of lives yesterday.
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