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(LEAD) Landslide kills 9 as heavy downpours batter central South Korea

All Headlines 12:09 July 27, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES with latest development throughout; CHANGES headline, slug, dateline)

SEOUL/CHUNCHEON, South Korea, July 27 (Yonhap) -- Heavy downpours pounded Seoul and its surrounding areas on Tuesday and Wednesday, triggering landslides, urban traffic chaos, power outages and flooded streets, roads and residential areas.

A landslide caused by torrential rain swept away a pension and four residential buildings near Chuncheon, about 85 kilometers east of Seoul, early Wednesday morning, killing nine and injuring 26 others, emergency rescue officials said.

"I was sleeping on the second floor of the pension when I heard the thundering sound of a landslide. The stairs collapsed and I was buried under mud," said one college student who was among the seven rescued by firefighters.

Two still remain missing in the landslide, which occurred just after midnight near the Soyang River Dam resort, said the officials.

The nine killed in the landslide-hit pension include six students from Incheon's Inha University who were participating in a four-day volunteer work program at a nearby elementary school, according to the officials.

More than 500 firefighters and police have been sent to the area to speed up rescue efforts for the two missing people believed to be trapped inside the collapsed buildings.

The Chuncheon area had received more than 253.5 millimeters of rain as of 6:00 a.m.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said downpours tallying a record 60mm per hour were recorded in the country's central and southern parts, as well as the Seoul metropolitan area.

The precipitation in Seoul between Tuesday and early Wednesday morning exceeded 400mm, the KMA said, adding heavy rain is expected through early Thursday morning.

Officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government said flooding was reported in streets, subway stations, underground walkways and residential districts throughout the capital city, while several landslides occurred in the city's hilly areas.

A number of flooded main roads in downtown and southern Seoul were closed to traffic, while a motorway linking Seoul to southern Gyeonggi Province was closed due to a landslide.

In Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, where 360mm of rain was recorded over the past two days, three people were reported missing in flooded streams and rivers.


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