Prosecutors summon North Chungcheong gov. for alleged Osong flooding involvement

Prosecutors summon North Chungcheong gov. for alleged Osong flooding involvement
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authorities conduct a rescue operation after an underpass in Osong-eup, North Chungcheong, was hit by a flash flood on July 15, 2023. [NEWS1]

Prosecutors summoned North Chungcheong Gov. Kim -hwan on Wednesday for alleged involvement in a flood disaster in Osong-eup last year that killed 14 people.

On July 15 last year, an underpass in Osong-eup of Cheongju, North Chungcheong, was hit by a flash flood during monsoon season after a temporary levee along Miho Stream collapsed.

The disaster trapped 17 vehicles, resulting in 14 dead and 16 injured.

The Cheongju District Prosecutors’ Office summoned Kim for questioning as a suspect under charges of violating the Serious Accidents Punishment Act. Kim was summoned some 290 days after the incident occurred.

Last August, the victims’ families filed complaints against government officials, including Kim and Cheongju Mayor Lee Beom-seok, accusing them of inadequately responding to the disaster, which they said could have been prevented.

The prosecutors’ office said it is closely investigating the case to determine whether Kim appropriately managed the tragedy as the chief of disaster and accident response officers within North Chungcheong.

It also added that it is focusing on questioning why the city government did not restrict traffic, despite knowing that the Miho Stream breached its banks and receiving reports of flood risk.

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Mayor Lee was previously summoned by prosecutors last month, nine months since the disaster happened.

The mayor was sent home after undergoing a 16-hour intensive investigation.

A few days after the disaster, prosecutors formed an investigation headquarters in response to the Office for Government Policy Coordination’s request to investigate 36 individuals from seven institutions, including the North Chungcheong provincial government and the Cheongju municipal government.

Prosecutors proceeded with search and seizures and investigated some 200 individuals involved in the disaster.

The prosecutors’ office sent 30 individuals to trial who were alleged to be related to the accident, including public officials, police officers and fire authorities.

Among those sent to trial, two construction officials responsible for the temporary levee along the Miho Stream were given sentences of seven years and six months and six years, respectively, for causing death due to occupational negligence.

BY KIM JI-YE [[email protected]]

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