Casualties and damage snowballing amid downpours | HaB

Casualties and damage snowballing amid downpours

Heavy rain pounding the country’s metropolitan and central regions since Saturday has been causing growing casualties and heavy property damage, with the number of people killed approaching 20, according to disaster relief officials Thursday.

Seoul Flood

Major highways running across Seoul including Dongbu and Olympic expressways were partly closed, causing enormous inconvenience to many commuters who chose to go to work by car.

The authorities are remaining on high alert as the Korea Meteorological Administration forecast that the country’s interior will receive more rain until Friday, with some areas in the capital region expected to suffer rainfall of more than 50 millimeters per hour.

flooded hanriverA flood alert was issued for areas near the Han River Bridge in central Seoul at 11 a.m. for the first time in nine years after the river continued to swell amid the torrential rain, which led the authorities to open the floodgates of key dams, including Soyang River Dam and Paldang Dam, a day earlier in a bid to release the waters into the sea via the Han River, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

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Districts that are at risk of floods include Yongsan, Mapo, and Yeongdeungpo, the city government said.

heavy rain in Korea

Border areas including Cheorwon in Gangwon Province and Yeoncheon and Paju in Gyeonggi Province were hit hardest by the massive downpours the previous day, with more than 2,000 local residents forced to evacuate to safe areas such as schools and gymnasiums. Some villages in Cheorwon have received more than 600 millimeters of rainfall in total, which led the Hantan Stream, the upper region of the Hantan River, to burst its banks.

According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters (CDSCH) under the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, 17 people have been confirmed dead, with 10 others still missing nationwide as of 4:30 p.m., Thursday.

Gunnam DamAmong the fatalities was a 50-year-old resident of Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, who was missing Monday after his car was swept away by strong currents. His body was found Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at least one person was killed and five others including a police officer went missing after three boats capsized near Uiam Dam on Uiam Lake in Chuncheon, also Gangwon Province, at 11:30 a.m. These people were believed to have been swept away through one of the dam’s open gates as it was releasing water for flood prevention. These have yet to be included in the government’s official record of the number of casualties.

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downpour in Seoul KoreaPrime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun issued an emergency order to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the National Fire Agency, and the National Police Agency to mobilize all possible means and personnel available to search for the missing.

“Rescue workers will also need to pay keen attention to their own safety,” Chung said. The heavy rains have caused landslides and floods that have led to massive property damage, the CDSCH said, noting that it has also received more than 5,000 reports regarding damage to facilities, including roads and bridges.

More than 50,000 civil servants, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and volunteer workers, along with more than 6,000 pieces of machinery have been mobilized for clearance work.

Source: The Korea Times

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