Floods, landslides kill over 2 dozens people after heavy rain lashes South Korea - GulfToday

Floods, landslides kill over 2 dozens people after heavy rain lashes South Korea


South Korean emergency workers search for survivors at a house destroyed by flood waters after heavy rains in Yecheon on Saturday. AFP

Days of heavy rain in South Korea have left at least 26 people dead and 10 others missing in landslides, floods and other incidents, the government said on Saturday.

The 26 fatalities were reported on Friday and Saturday, all in the central and southeastern regions, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said in a report.

Mostly of the victims were buried by landslides or after falling into a flooded reservoir.

The majority of the casualties — including 16 dead and nine missing — were from North Gyeongsang province, largely due to massive landslides in the mountainous area that engulfed houses with people inside.

Landslide-SouthKorea A general view shows landslide caused by torrential rain in Yecheon. Reuters

An earlier ministry report on Saturday morning said five people died after landslides caused by torrential downpours buried their houses.

Two others also died in landslide-related incidents. But the latest ministry report didn’t explain the cause of deaths for the additional fatalities.

Ministry officials said torrential rains have also left 10 people missing since Tuesday, and 13 others injured since Thursday.

South Korea is at the peak of its summer monsoon season and there has been heavy rainfall since July 9, triggering widespread flooding and landslides, and causing a major dam to overflow.

The ministry report said the rainfall had forced about 5,570 people to evacuate and left 25,470 households without electricity in the past several days.

It said more than 4,200 people remained in temporary shelters as of Saturday night.

Also on Saturday, 20 flights were cancelled, and the country’s regular train service and some of its bullet trains were suspended, the ministry said. It said nearly 200 roads remained closed.

Landslide-flood-SouthKoreaEmergency workers searching for survivors at a house destroyed by landslides after heavy rains in Yeongju.  AFP

South Korea’s weather agency said some parts of the country will continue to receive heavy rain until Sunday.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who was visiting Ukraine on Saturday, asked Prime Minister Han Duck-soo to mobilise all available resources to respond to the disaster, according to Yoon’s office.

Han urged officials to preempt river overflows and landslides, and requested support for rescue operations from the defence ministry.

Central regions received the largest rainfall, with more than 600 millimeters in the city of Gongju and the county of Cheongyang since July 9, respectively.

More than 6,400 residents in the central county of Goesan were ordered to evacuate early Saturday as the Goesan Dam began overflowing and submerging low-lying villages nearby, the interior ministry said.

Some of the people who have been reported missing were swept away when a river overflowed in North Gyeongsang province, the ministry said.

In the most severely affected areas, "entire houses were swept away whole," one emergency responder told the Yonhap News Agency.

Rescue workers were battling to reach some 19 cars trapped in a 430-metre-long underground tunnel in Cheongju, North Chungcheong province, according to the interior ministry.

One person was found dead, and nine people were rescued from a bus after flash flooding swept through the tunnel too quickly for people to escape, Yonhap reported.

Water levels remained high and it is unclear how many people were trapped inside their vehicles, they added.

"There were many cars inside the tunnel when the water began coming in and it rose very rapidly," one of the nine survivors who was rescued from the bus in the tunnel told the news agency. "I don't understand why the tunnel wasn't closed earlier."

Images broadcast on local television showed a torrential stream of water from a nearby river that had burst its banks flooding into the tunnel, as rescue workers struggled to use boats to get to victims inside.

The overall number of deaths is also expected to rise as local government agencies assess the damage nationwide, Yonhap said.

The Korea Meteorological Administration issued heavy rain warnings, saying more rain was forecast through to Wednesday next week, saying the weather conditions pose a "grave" danger.

Agence France-Presse

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