High waves kill at least eight in S.Korea
04/05/2008 10h25

 A man looks at a giant wave breaking on the coast
 ©AFP/File - Richard Bouhet

SEOUL (AFP) - At least eight people, including two children, were killed Sunday when high waves slammed a breakwater on South Korea's west coast, sucking anglers and others out to sea, coastguard officials said.

Two people are still missing after the incident near Boryeong, a town 200 kilometres (124 miles) southwest of Seoul, and 13 were injured, they said.

A nine-year-old boy and his father, and a five-year-old boy and his uncle, were among the dead, Lee Won-Il, a Taean coastguard official, told AFP.

He said five of the injured had been released from hospital while eight had been admitted, some in critical condition. Patrol boats are searching the area.

The accident happened during a long holiday weekend in South Korea, and visitors to the area were among the casualties.

"The sea water receded like an ebb tide before two-metre-high (6.6-foot) waves rushed to the breakwater and rocks to sweep the anglers and tourists into the water," Yonhap news agency quoted one witness as saying.

The cause of the high waves was not immediately known. The meteorological office said the weather was not particularly bad at the time.

"The wind might have been a bit strong, as we warned earlier. But there were no reasons for us to issue special warnings against tidal waves today," Bong Ji-A, of the local weather office in Daejeon, told AFP.

"It's a bit strange. So we've sent investigators to the area to look into this case."

Witness Lee Sang-Whan estimated the height of the waves at four to five metres.

Lee told YTN TV he heard a loud bang, like a sonic boom from an aircraft, just beforehand.

"Shortly afterwards, sounds like an explosion were heard and at the same time, the wave struck the breakwater and swept away people there."

The defence ministry said it had no reports of military manoeuvres in the area.

Original article: AFP
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