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(4th LD) 30 dead, 12 missing as heavy rain falls across S. Korea

All News 19:36 August 09, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, paras 2-4; ADDS paras 22 with rainfall tallies)

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) -- Floods and landslides triggered by heavy downpours in South Korea's central and southwestern regions have killed 30 people and left 12 others missing in just over a week, forcing more than 6,000 to evacuate, authorities said Sunday.

The country remains on high alert as search and recovery efforts continue and is bracing for an approaching typhoon likely to reach the peninsula early this week.

Torrential rains that started on Aug. 1 have wreaked havoc on Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province; the central Chungcheong and southwestern Jeolla Province, causing massive flooding and destroying roads, houses and farmland.

According to data from the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, as of 4:30 p.m., 13 people have been killed since Friday in accidents caused by the rain and two others have gone missing. More than 3,700 people have been displaced.

A village in Hadong, South Gyeongsang Province, is submerged by overflow from the Seomjin River on Aug. 8, 2020, due to two days of torrential rain. (Yonhap)

The death toll did not count the casualties from three capsized vessels at Uiam Dam in Chuncheon, 85 kilometers east of Seoul, which left three dead and three missing on Sunday. It was categorized as a marine accident.

More than 5,900 people from 11 provinces and cities left their homes, and some 4,600 of them remain at temporary shelters following warnings of disasters.

Some 9,300 hectares of farmland were swamped or buried, while 9,500 cases of damage to public and private facilities were reported. Repair work has been completed for 73.2 percent of the damage cases, according to the authorities.

Typhoon Jangmi, the season's fifth typhoon, is expected to hit the southern region of the Korean Peninsula from Monday, bringing about more rain in the flood-hit areas.

Formed early Sunday southwest of Okinawa, the typhoon is moving northeast and expected to pass waters off Jeju Island around 10 a.m. Monday, according to the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The state weather agency said the tropical storm will probably arrive in waters off Busan, the southern port city, some 453 kilometers southeast of Seoul, around 3 p.m. Monday.

An underground parking lot of an apartment complex in Gwangju, 329 kilometers south of Seoul, is flooded on Aug. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

The KMA said the central area is projected to receive a rainfall of 100-300 mm, and the southern regions will see rainfall of 100-200 mm. It will rain up to 300 mm in some regions close to the typhoon's trajectory, it said.

As it coincides with the astronomical high tide period, the KMA advised people on the southeastern seaside to take extra precautions and be prepared for dangerous tides.

It also asked the people in the affected areas to be fully prepared for possible flooding or landslides.

The disaster control center also expanded landslide warnings and advisories to 81 counties and cities across the nation as heavy rains continued to batter the country.

Landslide warnings were issued for 24 regions, including the northern part of Gwangju and Namwon, Muju and Jangsu in North Jeolla Province, while advisories were posted for 57 areas, including cities in the provinces of Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, North and South Jeolla and North and South Gyeongsang.

The Korea Forest Service said 667 landslides have been reported so far this month due to prolonged rains in southern regions.

It asked people to leave dangerous places when they are warned, as heavy rain can cause landslides.

As downpours continued to trounce the country's metropolitan and central regions Sunday afternoon, some sections of the Olympic Expressway in Seoul, alongside the southern part of Han River, have been closed to traffic.

The water level of the Han River, which runs through the capital, rose to dangerous levels due to the increased discharge of water from dams, including Paldang Dam, in upper reaches.

A trail alongside Yangjae Stream in Seoul is inundated due to heavy rain on Aug. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

The disaster authorities said seven railways across the country have been blocked as of Sunday morning, while 10 flights in Gwangju Airport have been canceled.

Rainfall pummeled the country over the weekend, with the central region, including Seoul, receiving more than 150 mm on a cumulative basis, and 612 mm in the southern county of Damyang in South Jeolla Province, with 533.7 mm in Gwangju and 517.5 mm in Hwasun County.

In a landslide that buried a house in the county of Jangsu, North Jeolla Province, two more people were found dead on Sunday, after two were found to have died the previous day.

A man in his 70s went missing as he was swept away by a strong current in Damyang.

The disaster control center said 3,749 people have been left homeless over the three-day period, most of which are still staying at temporary shelters due the flooding of the Seomjin River in Namwon City, North Jeolla Province, and Gurye and Damyang counties, both located in South Jeolla Province.

Nearly 3,300 cases of property damages were reported over the cited period, including to 2,233 public facilities, while damage was also reported to 287 residences and 1,180 hectares of farmland.

Some roads and bridges were destroyed by the heavy rain, which also caused 65 floods at local streams and 11 landslides.

Rescue workers search for a person trapped in the debris of a landslide at a village in Gokseong, about 400 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 8, 2020. Four people were dead and one missing after the landslide triggered by heavy rain. (Yonhap)

Last week, the government designated seven cities and counties in central South Korea, including Anseong of Gyeonggi Province, Cheorwon of Gangwon Province and Chungju of North Chungcheong Province, as special disaster zones due to heavy rainfall.

Those regional governments are eligible for state financial support for their disaster recovery efforts, while residents can receive reductions in utility bills, health insurance premiums and other public charges.

On Sunday, the governor of South Jeolla Province asked the central government to designate some cities of the province hit by recent downpours as special disaster zones as well.


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