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(5th LD) Heavy rain pummels central S. Korea; casualties reported in landslides

All News 23:16 August 03, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- Heavy rain continued to pound South Korea's central regions and the greater Seoul area Monday, flooding houses and roads, and prompting authorities to close riverside and mountainous areas.

From 6 p.m. Saturday through 10 p.m. Monday, more than 397 millimeters of rain soaked Anseong in Gyeonggi Province, south of Seoul, while precipitation for Chungju in North Chungcheong Province and Cheorwon in Gangwon Province reached 400 mm and 296 mm, respectively, during the same period.

Heavy rain alerts had been issued for the greater Seoul area, as well as North and South Chungcheong Provinces and Gangwon and North Gyeongsang Provinces as of 10:10 p.m. Rain of more than 10 mm to 20 mm per hour continued to fall in parts of Gyeonggi, Gangwon and Chungcheong Provinces.

In Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, a landslide swept over a temporary building in a semiconductor parts factory, killing three workers in their 30s and injuring one in his 50s. Two other workers managed to escape.

The workers were reportedly working in a makeshift building made of panels. Fire authorities said it took them nearly one hour to locate the victims as soil piled up several meters high.

This photo shows a semiconductor parts factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, where three workers died and one was seriously injured due to a mudslide triggered by torrential rain on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)
This photo shows a house in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, which was destroyed by a gas explosion prompted by a landslide on Aug. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

In Gapyeong, also in Gyeonggi Province, the gas and water supply was temporarily suspended to restore pipes that have been exposed due to heavy rain.

Three members of a family, including a 2-years-old child, were found dead after they went missing following a mudslide that engulfed the family-run rental accommodation house in the Gyeonggi county.

The rescue personnel also searched the scene for a missing Vietnamese staffer of the family business, but stopped the search with a plan to resume it the following day. The authorities did not rule out the possibility that the staffer got out of harm's way as his car was not discovered at the scene.

Local authorities said a person was swept up in a mountain stream in Gapyeong, while another went missing in nearby Pocheon County.

As of 9 p.m., the Gyeonggi provincial office recommended the evacuation of 16 cities and counties vulnerable to landslides, including Gapyeong, Yongin, Paju, Pocheon and Yangju.

This photo, provided by fire authorities in northern Gyeonggi Province, shows an accomodation engulfed by a landslide in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province on Aug. 3, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In South Chungcheong Province, three people went missing due to the downpours, while a cargo truck was swept away with a 62-year-old driver in North Chungcheong Province.

The rain was estimated to have damaged 556 houses and 3,622 hectares of farm land in the affected regions. Over 919 people have been displaced from their homes due to flooding and landslides.

In Seoul, a hole measuring 2 meters in width and 1.5 meters in depth appeared at a road in the southern area of Gangnam. Authorities are restoring the road. No casualties were reported.

Elsewhere in Seoul, authorities helped pump out water from flooded houses and remove trees that had been toppled by the heavy rain.

Entry to most of the 11 parks along the Han River has been banned as water levels spiked and swamped the areas. Entrance to streams and mountains are also being restricted to prevent accidents.

Parts of Olympic Expressway, a key highway that connects southern Seoul with Gyeonggi Province, was also closed as water levels quickly rose earlier in the day, although cars were allowed to pass later in the afternoon.

Most areas of a park by Han River in Seoul are under water following heavy rain across South Korea on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)
Parts of a road and a riverside park next to Olympic Expressway in southern Seoul are swamped due to heavy rain on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)
Olympic Expressway (L), a highway that connects southern Seoul with nearby Gyeonggi Province, is empty on Aug. 3, 2020, as entry was banned amid heavy rain. (Yonhap)

Similar damage was reported in the city of Incheon and the provinces of North Jeolla and South Chungcheong.

Areas in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, were swamped as 50-80 mm of rain hit the area. Rain swelled up to knee-level in a traditional market and covered car rooftops on some roads.

Passengers leave their cars after heavy rain swamped areas of Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, most train services that had been suspended due to mudslides resumed earlier Monday. However, trains connecting Chungju and Jecheon, both in North Chungcheong Province, and Youngju and Donghae in the eastern region remained disrupted. The Taebaek line also remained suspended.

A section of an busy intersection on Gyeongbu Expressway near Singal remained closed due mudslide.

The central disaster agency said that six died and at least five went missing due to the heavy rain on Monday alone. Counting fatalities reported over the weekend, the death toll for the past three days reached 12. Besides hundreds of homes being evacuated, authorities said 1,273 public facilities have been damaged by heavy rain.

President Moon Jae-in has called off his scheduled summer holiday amid growing damage from torrential rain, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon was briefed on the extent of damage caused by heavy rain nationwide and expressed concerns over people's safety, presidential deputy spokesperson Yoon Jae-kwan said in a briefing.

A destroyed cattle shed in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, is seen after heavy rain on Aug. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by fire authorities at North Chungcheong Province, shows rescue workers conducting a search near Eumseong after a 62-year-old was reported to have gone missing at a stream on Aug. 2, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Chuncheon Dam, in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, is in full action, releasing 2,370 tons of waters per second on Aug. 3, 2020, after heavy rain hit the area. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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