Apocalyptic rainfall hits South Korea; 9 dead and 7 missing

 Wednesday, August 10, 2022 


This week’s record rainfall battered Seoul and South Korea’s central and eastern regions.

It is recorded as the heaviest rainfall since World War II. Incessant rainfall submerged cars on the streets, flooded subway stations and left at least 9 people dead. 7 are still missing as per updates received of late.

The downpours also hit the neighbouring country North Korea. Discharging floodwaters without any prior notice near the two countries’ border led to chaos. Water levels near one border-area bridge rose to nearly 17 feet Monday afternoon, or six times higher than normal, South Korean officials said.

At one point Monday evening, several neighbourhoods in Seoul were washed away by rainfall that poured down at a rate of 5.5 inches per hour.

In total 525mm of rain pounded Seoul from Monday to Wednesday morning. This has been confirmed by Korea Meteorological Administration.

They also predicted that this area may suffer another 12 inches of rainfall through Wednesday. Rainfall approached 16 inches in some parts of South Korea on Monday and Tuesday.

That led to flash flooding that created particular disruption across the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. Roughly, half of the country’s 52 million people reside in this neighbourhood.

Many public services have been disrupted due to three days of continuous downpour. Six railroads have been completely submerged. Services in some sections and subway lines have been temporarily suspended.

As officials said, more than 2,500 homes and buildings are inundated. About 570 people from 398 households have been relocated to safer shelters that are mostly at local schools and gyms. A further 1,253 people from 724 households across the country have temporarily evacuated.

Authorities, however, closed sections of some highways in Seoul as of Wednesday morning, including the Olympic and Gangbyeon Northern highways that directly run through the city.

Downtown Seoul suffered severe rush-hour traffic jams on Tuesday due to the sheer number of vehicles left in the middle of busy streets.

The KMA said it has lifted the downpour warning in the wider Seoul area and Incheon, west of Seoul, as of early Wednesday.

Meanwhile, President Yoon Suk-yeol apologised to the nation on Wednesday morning after widespread criticism that the capital city lacks adequate flood control measures.

He said the government must come up with fundamental measures to respond to similar events in the future even while carrying out emergency restoration work and assisting victims.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol presided over an emergency response meeting on Tuesday morning, ordering authorities to prevent casualties and recover flooded areas.

Authorities asked companies to adjust working hours and raised the nation’s crisis alert to its highest level. The military stands ready to assist with relief efforts, the Defense Ministry said.

In North Korea, heavy rain warnings were issued in the southern and western parts of the country.

The country is repeatedly opening and closing the floodgates of a dam near its border with South Korea, Seoul officials said Tuesday. Pyongyang didn’t alert Seoul beforehand.

On Monday afternoon, water levels rose to nearly 17 feet at the Pilseung Bridge, located at the southern boundary of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, according to local provincial officials. The water level had receded to about 13 feet as of Tuesday morning. The typical water levels are under 3 feet.

The chances remain low of damage being caused by the Kim Jong Un regime’s release of dam waters, though authorities are closely monitoring the situation, South Korea’s unification ministry said.

Images published by local news and shared on social media captured scenes reminiscent of an apocalyptic movie.

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