Record rain leaves at least 8 dead in South Korea’s capital

SEOUL, Aug 9 (Reuters) – At least eight people died in and around Seoul overnight, South Korean authorities said on Tuesday, after torrential rains knocked out power, triggered landslides and flooded roads and underground trains.

The southern part of the national capital received more than 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain per hour on Monday night, with some parts of the city hit with 141.5 mm, the heaviest rainfall in decades, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

Accumulated rainfall in Seoul since midnight Monday stood at 451mm as of 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, with more forecast.

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President Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday visited a semi-basement apartment where three family members had died the night before after floodwaters filled the space.

The dangers of these underground floors, called banjiha, were famously depicted in a flood scene in the 2020 Oscar-winning film “Parasite.”

Yoon told area residents that he would try to make sure their lives return to normal as quickly as possible, and instructed officials to seek measures to better ensure the safety of homes, according to a statement from his office.

At least five people had died in Seoul and another three in neighboring Gyeonggi province by early Tuesday, the Central Security and Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters said.

Four, including all three family members, died after drowning in flooded buildings, one is believed to have been electrocuted, another person was found under the rubble of a bus stop and the other two were killed in a landslide, it said.

At least nine people were injured, while seven are missing.

In the dazzlingly dense Gangnam district, some buildings and shops were flooded and without power, while cars, buses and subway stations were submerged, leaving people stranded.

Lim Na-kyung, a 31-year-old office worker, recounted her fears Monday night, saying the situation reminded her of a scene from the 1997 movie “Titanic.”

“I had to keep going higher and higher because the building was submerging at a fast rate… I couldn’t believe I was trapped in a building with 40 other people in the middle of the Gangnam district,” the mother of two said. she who finally had to spend the night in a Pilates center on the fourth floor.

The data showed that at least 765 installations had been damaged. About 52 highways and roads have been blocked.

Around 391 people were displaced in the greater Seoul area, most of whom had to stay in local schools and gyms. Another 399 had temporarily relocated to community centers and schools, according to the data.

The center raised the crisis alert to the maximum and asked the organizations to adjust their working hours.

The KMA issued heavy rain warnings for the capital and the 26 million-strong metropolitan area, as well as parts of Gangwon and Chungcheong provinces.

The KMA expects heavy rain in the central part of the country to continue until at least Wednesday.

While South Korea often experiences heavy rains in summer, “such a strong increase in rainfall and frequent torrential rains cannot be explained without the big trend of climate change,” a KMA official, speaking under condition of anonymity. “This phenomenon is seen to occur more frequently due to climate change that has resulted in a prolonged summer.”

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Information from Joori Roh and Minwoo Park; Additional reporting by Josh Smith; Edited by Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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