May 28, 2023

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Seoul floods: Record rain kills at least 9 in South Korea’s capital as buildings inundated and cars inundated

Seoul floods: Record rain kills at least 9 in South Korea's capital as buildings inundated and cars inundated

Forecasters warned of a decrease in heavy rainfall on Wednesday, although already inundated areas could see an additional 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain through Thursday, which could lead to more flooding and mudslides.

South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Safety said three of the dead were trapped in a submerged basement floor. The ministry said 17 others were injured and at least seven were still missing.

More than 500 people have been evacuated since the torrential rains hit Seoul Monday night, and the ministry has provided tents, blankets and other relief items. Meanwhile, authorities launched cleaning and rescue services, with the fire department having rescued 145 people as of Wednesday.

About 2,800 structures have been destroyed — including homes, shops, retaining walls and other parts of infrastructure — though most were repaired as of Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Safety.

As of Tuesday night, parts of Seoul had seen up to 497 mm (19.6 in) of rain. At one point, the city recorded 141.5 millimeters (5.6 inches) of rain per hour — the highest rate since authorities began keeping records in 1907.

Images from around the city during flash floods on Monday show people wading through roads up to their thighs into the water.

In some parts of Seoul, drains have backed up and sent water to streets and subway stations, according to Seoul Metro. A number of stations were closed due to flooding, with lines temporarily suspended on Monday night.

Images after the wreckage show debris strewn across the streets, shop owners trying to salvage their goods, crumbling sections of sidewalks and damaged vehicles swept away by floodwaters.

Debris piles up in front of flood-affected shops at Namsung Sagi Market in Seoul, South Korea, on August 10.

Several areas south of the Han River were hardest hit, including the wealthy modern Gangnam district, where some buildings and shops were inundated and electricity was lost.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol He sent his condolences to the victims on Tuesday, saying he would conduct a field inspection and work to prevent additional damage.

He also noted the need to review the country’s disaster management system, as extreme weather is expected to become increasingly common due to the climate crisis.

Pedestrians cross a flooded road in Gimpo, Seoul, on August 9.

Several countries in East Asia are now seeing more intense daily rain, as the summer monsoons are expected to get stronger and more unpredictable as the Earth warms, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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More rounds of heavy rain will continue into Thursday morning before ending Thursday afternoon, meteorologists told CNN.

Precipitation in Seoul usually averages 348 mm (13.7 in) in August – the wettest month of the year there. Several locations recorded so much rain in just one day.

parts of Japan It also saw torrential rain on Monday night, with some areas of Hokkaido reporting flooding – but no casualties as of Tuesday. The authorities warned of the dangers of floods and landslides.