In South Korea, no less than 22 people have died and 14 are missing following torrential rains which fell on several regions of the country, local authorities announced on Saturday. There, thousands of residents had to be evacuated from their homes due to an alert for the overflow of a dam. In three days, heavy rains submerged many regions in the middle of the monsoon.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the victims and the missing were mostly engulfed in landslides or fell into a flooded water reservoir.
The balance sheet should be raised in the coming days
The majority of the victims – including 16 dead and nine people missing – were in North Gyeongsang province, where massive landslides in mountainous areas buried inhabited homes. Several of the missing people were swept away in the overflows of a river in this region, according to the ministry.
Earlier in the day, the South Korean news agency Yonhap quoting local official relief, for its part, reported 24 dead. The number of casualties is expected to rise further as authorities are still taking stock of the damage across the country, according to the news agency.
In the most affected areas, “houses have been swept away in their entirety”, said a rescue worker in Yonhap. More than 6,400 residents of central Goesan County were ordered to evacuate early Saturday as the Goesan Dam began to overflow from heavy rains and submerge nearby low-lying villages, according to the Interior Ministry. Rescuers were working hard to reach 19 cars trapped in a tunnel in Cheongju, central North Chungcheong Province, where a person’s body was found, Yonyap said.
Floods hit the area with such rapidity that the population could not evacuate in time. Water levels remain high and it is still impossible to know precisely how many people have been trapped in their vehicles, according to Yonhap.
Stopping of rail transport and road closures
The torrential rains have caused all regular trains to stop nationwide, with high-speed KTX trains remaining operational with possible schedule adjustments, according to the national railway company. Roads have been closed as well as traffic lanes in national parks due to rain and flooding.
The administration in charge of weather forecasting in South Korea has issued vigilance notices as more rains are expected until Wednesday. The weather conditions still pose a “serious” danger according to her. South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has appealed to the South Korean Defense Ministry to help with relief efforts.