Seven dead as record rainfall batters South Korea

Seven dead as record rainfall batters South Korea

In South Korea, at least seven people have died after record overnight rainfall hammered the capital Seoul, turning streets into rivers, submerging vehicles and inundating metro stations.

Rainfall of more than 100 mm an hour was recorded in Seoul, surrounding areas of Gyeonggi province and the port city of Incheon on Monday night, according to the Yonhap news agency. The per-hour rainfall in the Dongjak district surpassed 141.5 mm at one point, the heaviest hourly downpour in Seoul for 80 years.

Commuters slowly returned to work on Tuesday after cleanup crews worked through the night, but there were concerns about further damage as torrential rain was forecast for the second day in a row.

The Korea meteorological administration issued heavy rain warnings across the capital and the metropolitan area of 26 million, as well as parts of Gangwon and Chungcheong province. It said heavy rainfall would continue in the central region of the country until at least Wednesday.

As of Tuesday morning, seven people were missing, as images shared on social media showed people wading through waist-deep water, metro stations overflowing, and cars half-submerged in the upmarket Gangnam district.

Lee Dongha, an office worker, said last night that I was near Gangnam station when the rainfall intensified, with thunder and lightning striking every 30 seconds. All of a sudden, buses, subway stations and streets were submerged, and that was when I decided to book accommodation because I didn't want to be left with nowhere to go. Three people, including a 13-year-old, died in the Gwanak district of southern Seoul after their semi-basement banjiha flat, similar to the one featured in the Oscar-winning movie Parasite was inundated by floodwater.

Another woman drowned at her home in the nearby Dongjak district. A public sector worker died while clearing up fallen tires, apparently after he stepped into water that had been electrified by damaged power lines, according to the interior ministry.

Two people were found dead in the debris of a collapsed bus station and a landslide in the nearby city of Gwangju.

Yoon Suk-yeol, the country's president, ordered the evacuation of residents from high-risk areas and encouraged businesses to adjust their employees commuting times.

Yoon wrote on his Facebook page that nothing is more precious than life and safety. The government will manage the heavy rain situation. While most of the Seoul metropolitan area subway services resumed normal operations on Tuesday, about 80 roads and dozens of riverside parking lots remained closed due to safety concerns.

South Korea is no stranger to heavy rainfall in the summer, but a meteorological administration official said that the climate emergency had caused a sharp increase in precipitation and frequent torrential rains.

The official said climate change has resulted in a prolonged summer, which has resulted in a longer summer.

Rainstorms also sounded in North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for the southern and western parts of the country. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper described the rain as potentially disastrous and called for measures to protect farmland and prevent flooding on the Taedong River, which flows through the capital Pyongyang.