Seoul, South Korea — Some of the heaviest rains in decades have hit the South Korean capital region, turning the streets of Seoul into car-clogged rivers and causing flooding to flood subway stations. At least eight people have been killed – some drowned in their homes – and seven others are missing, with more rain forecast, officials said Tuesday.
More than 43 centimeters (17 inches) of rain was measured in Seoul’s hardest-hit Dongjak district from Monday to Tuesday afternoon. Rainfall in the area exceeded 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) per hour at one point on Monday night, the highest hourly downpours measured in Seoul since 1942.
Wrecked cars and buses littered the streets as the water receded on Tuesday. Workers clear trees, mud and debris with excavators and block damaged roads. Landslide warnings have been issued in nearly 50 cities and towns, and 160 hiking trails in Seoul and the mountainous province of Gangwon have been closed.
Emergency crews worked through the night to restore most subway services as of Tuesday morning, but a line connecting towns north of Seoul was closed Tuesday night as rain continued flooded some stations.
Dozens of roads, including the main highway near the Han River, were closed because of high water levels or local flooding.
“Heavy rainfall is expected to continue for many days… we need to maintain vigilance and respond with all our might,” Chairman Yoon Suk Yeol said at the government’s emergency headquarters.
Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Hong-sik said the military was ready to deploy troops to support recovery efforts if required by cities or regional governments.
Rain started Monday morning and intensified into the evening.
As night falls, people wade through thigh-deep water on the streets of Gangnam, one of Seoul’s busiest business and entertainment districts, where cars and buses get stuck in the brown water. like mud. Commuters evacuate as water falls down the stairs of Isu subway station like a waterfall. In the nearby city of Seongnam, a hillside due to waning rain collapsed onto a university football field.
Rescuers were unable to reach the three people — two sisters in their 40s and a 13-year-old girl — who cried out for help before drowning in a basement house in Gwanak district, southern Seoul on Monday night. Another woman drowned in her home in nearby Dongjak district, where a worker died while clearing a fallen tree, possibly from electric shock. Choi Seon-yeong, an official with the Dongjak district office, said it was not clear whether the death was caused by a damaged power source or the equipment the man was using.
Three people were found dead in the rubble of a landslide and a bus stop collapsed in the nearby cities of Gwangju and Hwaseong.
Four people went missing in the Seocho district south of Seoul, Yoon’s hometown, who, according to his office, spent hours receiving briefings and giving instructions overnight as rain flooded the children. street near his high-rise apartment building.
Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and surrounding cities were damaged and at least 790 people were forced to evacuate their homes, the Ministry of Interior and Safety said.
The country’s weather agency maintained a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and surrounding areas on Tuesday and said rainfall could reach 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) an hour. in some areas. It said there would be about 10 to 35 centimeters (4 to 14 inches) of additional rain across the capital region through the end of Thursday.
Rainstorms also hit North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for southern and western regions of the country. North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper described the rain as potentially catastrophic and called for measures to protect arable land and prevent flooding on the Taedong River, which flows through the capital Pyongyang.