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(LEAD) Southwestern areas evacuated after rivers overflow, bank collapses

All News 16:20 August 08, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with land ministry's announcement in paras 3-6; MODIFIES headline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Major rivers and streams in the southwestern region of South Korea overflowed or came near to flooding in some places Saturday due to torrential rains, forcing local residents to evacuate and disrupting train services.

Two days of downpours caused the flooding of the Seomjin River in Gokseong and Gurye counties, both located in South Jeolla Province.

A stretch of the river's bank in Namwon, adjacent to Gurye, collapsed at around 12:50 p.m.

The local office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said an estimated damage scope reaches 50-100 meters. It's still hard to gain exact information due to the inaccessibility of the site, officials added.

As vast swathes of farmland and houses were inundated, local authorities said earlier they have ordered residents in affected areas to evacuate immediately.

More than 190 people left villages near the bank, where at least 70 houses submerged.

A village in Namwon, South Jella Province, is flooded due to overflow from a stream on Aug. 8, 2020 in this photo provided by a local resident. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The water level of the Yeongsan River, another key river in the province, approached the threshold, as a stream in Gwangju, 270 kilometers south of Seoul, ran over some banks. River authorities released dam water, leaving dozens of villagers temporarily isolated.

The rainfall also put some villages in the western part of South Gyeongsang Province under water and hampered a number of train operations. All KTX bullet train services between Iksan, North Jeolla Province, and Yeoju, South Jeolla Province, came to a halt.

The Seomjin River is on the verge of overflowing in Gurye, South Jeolla Province, on Aug. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by the Gurye county office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
A village in Muju, North Jeolla Province, is inundated due to heavy rains on Aug. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by a local resident. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Korea Forest Service elevated the landslide warning level to "serious," the highest in its four-tier alert system, in 16 provinces and metropolitan cities nationwide except for Jeju Island.

The Korea Meteorological Administration forecast more rains in Gwangju and the Jeolla provincial areas through Sunday morning. It said the central province of Chungcheong and the eastern province of Gangwon are bracing for heavy rains again as well amid the possibility that a typhoon will march toward the peninsula later this week.

Train officials work to restore a rain-damaged railway in North Jeolla Province on Aug. 8, 2020. (Yonhap)

The government held an interagency meeting, presided over by Minister of the Interior and Safety Chin Young, to check damages and discuss ways to prevent additional damage.


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