At least five people have been killed and 37 injured after a bus collided with a freight truck in a highway tunnel near Seoul, the South Korean capital. Al-Jazeera reported this information with reference to the concerned officials.

It was not immediately known what caused the collision and fire and what cargo the truck was carrying.

A fire department official told news agency AFP that the fire started when two vehicles collided in an expressway tunnel in Gwacheon at 1:50 p.m. local time.

Fire officials said the collision occurred in a sound-barrier tunnel on the highway. The raised tunnel is designed to shield surrounding buildings from road noise.

According to the National Fire Agency, three of the injured are in critical condition, and 34 have minor injuries.

Pictures posted locally and on social media showed huge plumes of fire and thick smoke coming from the tunnel. Later, hundreds of firefighters were able to bring the fire under control.

A fire official said, ‘We are searching inside the tunnel for additional casualties. About 20 people are being treated for smoke inhalation.

Interior Minister Lee Sang-min called for the ‘maximum deployment of resources’ to save lives.

“I urge the authorities to do their best to save the lives of those who did not escape,” he said.

In October, at least 153 people were killed in a Halloween crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon nightlife district.

(Dhaka Times / 29 December / SAT)