The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Record July monsoon sees highest casualties in 12 years

By Kim Da-sol

Published : July 16, 2023 - 20:37

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Fire authorities conduct a rescue operation in Busan on Sunday. (Busan Metropolitan City) Fire authorities conduct a rescue operation in Busan on Sunday. (Busan Metropolitan City)

South Korea has been hit by record rainfall, resulting in the highest number of casualties during the monsoon season in 12 years, according to figures compiled by the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.

Government figures showed that a total of 46 have died or been reported missing between July 9 and 6 p.m. Sunday. The figure is expected to rise as rescue operations are still underway at the site of a submerged underpass tunnel in Osong-eup, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.

The latest figures mark the highest number of casualties since 2011, when a landslide on Woomyeon Mountain in Seoul caused 78 casualties.

The number of casualties has reached the same level recorded during the 2020 monsoon season, which lasted a record 54 days and saw four typhoons, including Haishen and Maysak, sweep the peninsula.

According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the total number of casualties due to heavy rains between 2013 and 2022 was 122.

The number of yearly casualties remained in the single digits between 2013 and 2018, while the monsoon season in 2015 saw no casualties.

But the figures swelled to 18 casualties in 2019 and in 2020, the amount of damage was tallied at 1.3 trillion won ($1 billion).

In 2021, three casualties were recorded, while the number rose to 30 in 2022, when heavy rains hit the central regions of Korea and caused deaths in mostly residential areas. Around 141.5 millimeters of rain per hour hit Seoul, where 13 people died or went missing, many in underground spaces like parking lots.

From 1993 to 2022, a total of 1,602 people were killed or went missing during monsoon season. Nearly 23.1 trillion won in damage was recorded over the same period.

The highest number of casualties was recorded in 1998 when the peninsula was hit by Typhoon Yanni, leaving 382 people dead or missing. Nearly 1,000 millimeters of rain per day fell in Gangwon and Chungcheong Provinces in 2002 during Typhoon Rusa, which led to 6 trillion won in damage.