AT least five people have been killed and dozens left injured after a bus crash sparked a massive blaze inside a tunnel in Seoul.
Shocking images showed huge flames and thick black plumes of smoke rising from the motorway tunnel as hundreds of firefighters battled to bring the inferno under control.
The fire started when a bus smashed into a truck at around 1.50pm local time in the expressway tunnel in Gwacheon in the South Korean capital.
The raised tunnel – designed to protect surrounding buildings from the noise of the road – was quickly engulfed in flames.
At least 44 vehicles have been destroyed.
Footage showed the tunnel filled with flames as burning debris tumbled onto the motorway below.
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An eyewitness told Yonhap News Agency: "Someone told me to evacuate, and most drivers abandoned their cars and ran outside the tunnel."
After initially stating six people had been killed, authorities revised down the death toll to five, with 37 people injured.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control after several hours – but a search is still underway for any survivors.
"We are doing a search inside the tunnel in case of additional casualties," an official at the fire department said.
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Some of the injured have suffered from burns, the official said.
"Three have suffered burns on facial areas while the rest are being treated for smoke inhalation," he said.
Interior Minister Lee Sang-min called for "maximum resources deployed" to save lives.
"I urge the authorities to put out the best efforts to save the lives of those who have not escaped," he said.
The fatal accident comes just months after 150 people, mostly young women, were killed in a horrific Halloween crowd crush in the Itaewon nightlife district.
The country has been rocked by a number of preventable disasters in recent years, including Itaewon, and the Sewol ferry sinking which killed more than 300 people in 2014.
Many South Koreans have questioned whether safety standards were side-lined and regulations ignored in the country's rapid development.
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