Rain in South Korea turns roads into rivers, at least 8 dead

Seoul, South Korea –

Heavy rains drenched South Korea’s capital region, turning the streets of Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district into a river, submerging vehicles and overwhelming public transportation systems. At least eight people were killed and another six are missing.

Commuters slowly made their way back to work Tuesday morning after emergency crews worked through the night to clean up much of the mess. But there were concerns about more damage as torrential rain was forecast for the second day in a row.

While most subway services in the Seoul metropolitan area returned to normal operation, dozens of roads and riverside parking lots remained closed due to security concerns.

President Yoon Suk Yeol called on public employers and private companies to adjust their travel schedules and urged strong action to restore damaged facilities and evacuate people in danger zones to prevent further deaths. Moon Hong-sik, a spokesman for the Seoul Defense Ministry, said the military was prepared to deploy troops to help with recovery efforts if requested by cities or regional governments.

The rain began Monday morning and intensified overnight. Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged, while at least 790 people were forced to evacuate their homes, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Security said.

People were seen wading through thigh-deep water on the streets near Gangnam Subway Station, one of Seoul’s busiest shopping and entertainment districts, on Monday night, where passenger cars, taxis and buses were left behind. caught in muddy brown water. Commuters evacuated as water cascaded down the stairs of the Isu subway station like a waterfall. In the nearby city of Seongnam, a rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a college football field.

Rescuers were unable to reach three people who called for help before drowning in the basement of a house in the Gwanak district of southern Seoul on Monday night. Another woman drowned at her home in nearby Dongjak district, where a public worker died while clearing fallen trees, probably from electrocution. Choi Seon-yeong, an official with the Dongjak district office, said it was not immediately clear whether the water was electrified due to a damaged power source or equipment the man was using.

Three people were found dead in debris from landslides and a collapsed bus station in the nearby cities of Gwangju and Hwaseong.

Four people went missing in the southern Seocho district of Seoul, which is also home to the private residence of Yoon, who, according to his office, spent hours on the phone receiving reports and giving instructions overnight as rain flooded some of the streets near his home. home. -apartment complex in height.

“Heavy rain is expected to continue for days… we need to maintain our sense of alertness and respond with all our efforts,” Yoon said during a visit to the government’s emergency headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. She directed officials’ attention to areas vulnerable to landslides or flooding and to reducing the dangers of already damaged roads and facilities.

The country’s meteorological agency maintained a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and nearby regions on Tuesday, saying precipitation could reach 5 to 10 centimeters per hour in some areas. He said an additional 10 to 35 centimeters of rain was expected in the capital region through Thursday.

More than 17 inches of rain was measured in Seoul’s Dongjak district, the hardest hit, from Monday to noon Tuesday. Hourly rainfall in that area exceeded 14 centimeters at one point on Monday night, which was the highest hourly downpour measured in Seoul since 1942.

The storms also hit North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for the south and west of the country. The North’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, described the rain as potentially “disastrous” and called for measures to protect farmland and prevent flooding of the Taedong River, which runs through the capital Pyongyang.

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