Rains turn roads into rivers


Water woes: Abandoned vehicles on a road in a flooded area in Seoul. — Reuters

SEOUL: Heavy rains drenched South Korea’s capital region, turning the streets of Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district into a river, leaving submerged vehicles and overwhelming public transport systems. At least eight people were killed and six others were missing.

Commuters slowly returned to work yesterday morning after emergency crews worked overnight to clean up much of the mess. But there were concerns about further damage as torrential rain was forecast for the second day in a row.

While most of the Seoul metropolitan area’s subway services were back to normal operations, dozens of roads and riverside parking lots remained closed due to safety concerns.

President Yoon Suk-yeol called for public employers and private companies to adjust their commuting hours and urged aggressive action in restoring damaged facilities and evacuating people in danger areas to prevent further deaths.

Moon Hong-sik, spokesperson of Seoul’s Defence Ministry, said the military was prepared to deploy troops to help with recovery efforts if requested by cities or regional governments.

The rain began on Monday morning and intensified through the evening hours. Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged while at least 790 people were forced to evacuate from their homes, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.

People were seen wading through thigh-high waters on Monday night in streets near the Gangnam subway station, one of Seoul’s most bustling business and leisure districts, where passenger cars, taxis and buses were stuck in mud-brown waters.

Commuters evacuated as water cascaded down the stairs of the Isu subway station like a waterfall. In the nearby city of Seongnam, a rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a university soccer field.

Rescue workers failed to reach three people who called for help before drowning in a basement home in the Gwanak district of southern Seoul on Monday night.

Another woman drowned at her home in the nearby Dongjak district, where a public worker died while clearing up fallen trees, likely from electrocution. — AP

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