At least eight people died in Seoul and its surroundings overnight Monday, South Korean authorities said today, after torrential rains knocked out power, triggered landslides and left streets and subways submerged.
The southern part of the national capital received more than 100 mm of rain per hour, and some parts of the city were affected with 141.5 mm, the heaviest precipitation in decades, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
Accumulated rainfall in Seoul since midnight Monday stood at 451mm as of 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, with more forecast.
🔊🇰🇷 Evacuation sirens have sounded in various areas of #Seoul for the first time in many years for a real emergency. The floods suffered tonight are historic after the worst rain in 80 years.#SeoulFlood pic.twitter.com/HirsPfY3JB
– Alvaro 알바로 🇰🇷🇺🇦🇹🇼 (@alvariteus) August 8, 2022
President Yoon Suk-yeol visited on Tuesday a semi-basement apartment where three family members had died the night before after flood waters filled the space.
The dangers of these underground floors, called banjihawere famously depicted in a flood scene in the 2020 Oscar-winning film “Parasite”.
Yoon told area residents that he would try to make sure their lives return to normal as quickly as possible, and instructed officials to seek measures to better guarantee the safety of homes, according to a statement from his office.
At least five people had died in Seoul and another three in neighboring Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday morning, the Central Security and Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters said.
Four, including the three family members, died after drowning in flooded buildingsOne is believed to have been electrocuted, another person was found under the rubble of a bus stop and the other two were killed in a landslide, he said.
At least nine people were injured, while seven are missing.
In the dazzling and dense Gangnam district, some buildings and shops were flooded and left without power, while cars, buses and subway stations were submerged, leaving people stranded.
Lim Na-kyung, a 31-year-old office worker, recounted her fears Monday night, saying the situation reminded her of a scene from the 1997 movie “Titanic.”
“I had to keep going higher and higher because the building was submerging at an accelerating rate… I couldn’t believe I was stuck in a building with 40 other people in the middle of the Gangnam district,” said the mother of two, who eventually had to spend the night in a Pilates center on the fourth floor.
The data showed that at least 765 installations had been damaged. About 52 highways and roads have been blocked.
About 391 people were displaced in the Seoul metropolitan area, most of which had to stay in local schools and gyms. Another 399 had temporarily relocated to community centers and schools, according to the data.
The plant raised the crisis alert to the maximum and asked the organizations to adjust their working hours.
The KMA issued heavy rain warnings for the capital and the 26 million metropolitan area, as well as parts of the provinces of Gangwon and Chungcheong.
The KMA expects the heavy rains in the central part of the country to continue until at least on Wednesday.
While South Korea often experiences heavy rains in summer, “such a sharp increase in precipitation and frequent torrential rains cannot be explained without the great trend of climate change“, said to Reuters a KMA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“This phenomenon is seen to occur more frequently due to climate change that has resulted in a prolonged summer.”