(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 5-7: REPLACES 1st photo)
SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Major highways running across Seoul were partly closed on Thursday, with flood alerts issued for areas near a major bridge on the Han River, as heavy rains pushed up the water level of the river that flows through the capital city.
Several sections of the Dongbu Urban Expressway, Seoul Inner Loop, Olympic-daero and Gangbyeon Northern Highway have been closed to traffic due to the inner city river's swelled water level, according to the police and the city of Seoul.
As heavy rains continued to batter the country's metropolitan and central regions, authorities opened the floodgates of Soyang River Dam and Paldang Dam a day earlier, releasing the waters to empty into the sea through the Han River.
The swollen river also forced authorities to cut off access to riverside roads in Seoul's Yeouido and other areas. Jamsu Bridge linking the southern and northern parts of the city over the Han River also remained off limits.
As of 11 a.m. a flood alert was also issued for areas near the Han River Bridge in central Seoul, according to the city government.
The Han River Flood Control Center of the Environment Ministry issued the alert as the nearby water level surged to 8.23 meters, close to the 8.5-meter level where extra caution is required against risks of flooding.
Authorities predicted that the water line will go up further, possibly over the 8.5-meter level at around the noon.
A total of 11 of Seoul's 25 wards, including Yongsan, Gangnam, Seocho and Mapo, are at risk of flooding because of the river's swelling water level, according to authorities.
As heavy rains continue to wreak havoc in the country's central regions, including the Seoul metropolitan area, the death toll has risen to 16 this month, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.
Eleven people remained missing as of Thursday morning due to the cloudburst, while more than 1,600 people were displaced from their homes in areas hit hardest, such as North and South Chungcheong provinces, Gyeonggi Province and Gangwon Province.
Three train lines, including Taebaek and Chungbuk, remained totally or partially out of service, while 39 roads across the affected areas were off limits due to mudslide damage from the torrential rains, according to authorities.
As of Thursday morning, more than 5,000 houses and facilities were reported flooded or damaged in the latest bout of heavy rains. Nearly 8,065 hectares of farm land have been inundated or ravaged.
The weather agency urged extra caution and safety measures, as the central and southern regions are expected to receive rainfall of up to 50 millimeters per hour with strong winds on Thursday and Friday.
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