- Seoul recorded its highest hourly downpour since 1942 on Monday night.
- Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged. Thousands were forced to evacuate.
- Rainfall is expected to continue for days.
- A rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a university soccer field.
SEOUL, South Korea – Some of the heaviest rain in decades swamped South Korea’s capital region, turning Seoul’s streets into car-clogged rivers and sending floods cascading into subway stations.
At least nine people were killed – some drowning in their homes – and six others were missing, with more rain forecast, officials said Tuesday.
More than 18 inches of rain was measured in Seoul’s hardest-hit Dongjak district from Monday to Tuesday evening. Precipitation in the area exceeded 5.5 inches per hour at one point Monday night, the highest hourly downpour measured in Seoul since 1942.
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Deserted cars and buses were scattered across streets as the water receded on Tuesday. Workers cleared uprooted trees, mud and debris with excavators and blocked off broken roads. Landslide warnings were issued in nearly 50 cities and towns, and 160 hiking paths in Seoul and mountainous Gangwon province were closed.
Dozens of roads, including major expressways, were closed because of rising water levels or partial flooding.
“The heavy rainfall is expected to continue for days… we need to maintain our sense of alert and respond with all-out effort,” President Yoon Suk Yeol said at the government’s emergency headquarters.
The military was prepared to deploy troops to help with recovery, Defense Ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik said.
The rain began Monday morning and strengthened through the evening. By nightfall, people were wading through thigh-high waters in one of Seoul’s most bustling business and leisure districts, where cars and buses were stuck in mud-brown waters.
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Commuters evacuated as water cascaded down the stairs of the Isu subway station.
In the nearby city of Seongnam, a rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a university soccer field.
Who were the victims?
Rescue workers failed to reach three people – two sisters in their 40s and a 13-year-old girl – who called for help before drowning in a basement home in Seoul on Monday.
Another woman drowned in her home and a public worker died while clearing fallen trees, likely from electrocution. Choi Seon-yeong, an official from the Dongjak district office, said it wasn’t immediately clear what the cause of death was..
Three people were found dead in the debris of landslides and a collapsed bus station in nearby cities.
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Four people were missing in southern Seoul.
Hundreds of buildings damaged; thousands forced to evacuate
Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged and around 1,380 people were forced to evacuate from their homes as of Tuesday evening, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
The country’s weather agency maintained a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and nearby regions. It said around 4 to 14 inches of additional rain was expected across the capital region through Thursday.
Rainstorms also pounded North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for the southern and western parts of the country.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper described the rain as potentially disastrous and called for measures to protect farmland and prevent flooding.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism