Death toll rises to 53, while 14 missing
Heavy rains, which drenched Seoul and the central regions from Tuesday, continued Thursday, triggering more deadly landslides and flash floods.
The official death toll reached 53 as of 4 p.m., while 14 others were reported missing, the National Emergency Management Agency said. The tally is likely to climb as rescuers search for the victims and reports continue to come in, it said.
“Residents need to remain on alert for more landslides or flash floods,” an NEMA official said.
Restoration is underway on Thursday in a street of Bangbae-dong, southern Seoul, covered by mud from a landslide at Mount Umyeon. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
From Tuesday till 4 p.m. Thursday Seoul registered 534 millimeters of rain, the heaviest downpour on record. Other central regions also reported record levels of precipitation.
Heavy rains triggered deadly landslides, flash floods, while paralyzing traffic and cutting electricity supply to some areas. Thousands of public officials, police and military officials were mobilized nationwide for rescue and restoration efforts.
On top of Wednesday’s two deadly landslides in Seoul and Chuncheon, which claimed 29 lives, several more mudslides were reported overnight in areas north of the capital.
In Pocheon, six people were killed, as days of torrential rains sent a wall of mud and water into mountainside houses.
A plant collapsed in Paju, leaving three workers dead and two others injured. One was missing.
In Dongducheon, north of Seoul, a mountain hut was found flattened by a landslide. Rescuers were searching for four people who had been staying at the hut.
The anti-disaster agency issued landslide warnings for a total of 77 towns, including 11 in the Seoul area.
“The possibility of a landslide has risen to a very high level by days of heavy downpours which followed a long rainy season,” the emergency official said.
Casualties from multiple landslides that occurred in Seoul’s posh villages at the foot of Mount Umyeon on Wednesday morning rose to 16. Twenty others were injured, while another was still missing.
In a village in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, where a landslide killed 13 just past midnight Wednesday, residents evacuated for the fear of another landslide.
Of the landslide victims, 10 were students of Inha University who were in the area for volunteer work during their summer vacation.
Flash-flooding also took many lives.
In the cities of Gwangju and Yongin, both in Gyeonggi Province, eight were killed, while seven went missing and hundreds of others evacuated as local stream Gonjiam flooded.
Nationwide, more than 1,400 houses and 645 hectare of farmland have been submerged. Over 9,400 people fled their homes due to flooding and possible landslide.
Electricity outage occurred, affecting 126,000 houses across the country.
Traffic conditions in Seoul improved from chaos Wednesday, as emergency officials sped up cleanup and restoration efforts and more commuters chose public transportations.
Still, some 32 major roads remained closed to traffic Thursday in and around Seoul, while subway services continued to be partially disturbed.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org