Seoul floods: Roads turn to rivers in South Korea, leaving at least eight dead

Streets were turned into car-clogged rivers and water cascaded into subway stations on Monday, with more rain still forecast. Credit: AP

At least eight people have been killed and seven others were missing after floods caused by torrential rain swamped South Korea's capital Seoul.

Streets were turned into car-clogged rivers and water cascaded into subway stations, with more rain still forecast.

In one area, Korea's meteorological agency said it had recorded the heaviest downpour for 80 years.

Landslide warnings were issued in nearly 50 cities and towns, while 160 hiking paths in Seoul and the mountainous Gangwon province were closed.

“The heavy rainfall is expected to continue for days … we need to maintain our sense of alert and respond with all-out effort,” President Yoon Suk Yeol said at the government’s emergency headquarters.

He directed officials’ attention to areas vulnerable to landslides or flooding and to reducing the dangers of roads and facilities already damaged to prevent more deaths.

A car sits damaged on a road after floating in heavy rainfall in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. Credit: AP

The rain began on Monday morning and intensified through the evening.

By nightfall, people were wading through thigh-high waters in streets in Gangnam, one of Seoul’s most bustling business and leisure districts, where cars and buses were stuck in mud-brown waters.

Commuters evacuated as water cascaded down the stairs of the Isu subway station like a waterfall.

In the nearby city of Seongnam, a rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a university football field.

Rescue workers failed to reach three people – two sisters in their 40s and a 13-year-old girl – who called for help before drowning in a basement home in the Gwanak district of southern Seoul on Monday night.

Another woman drowned at her home in the nearby Dongjak district, where a public worker died while clearing up fallen trees, likely from electrocution.

An official from the Dongjak district ward office said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the water was electrified because of a damaged power source or equipment the man was using.

A car sits damaged on the pavement after floating in heavy rainfall in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. Credit: AP

Three people were found dead in the debris of landslides and a collapsed bus station in the nearby cities of Gwangju and Hwaseong.

Four people went missing in southern Seoul’s Seocho district, which is also home to the private residence of President Yoon, who, according to his office, spent hours on the phone receiving briefings and issuing instructions overnight as the rain flooded some of the streets near his high-rise apartment complex.

Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged while at least 790 people were forced to evacuate from their homes, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.

The country’s weather agency continued to issue a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and nearby regions on Tuesday and said more rain was expected throughout the region until Thursday.

Rainstorms also pounded North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for the southern and western parts of the country.

The North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper described the rain as potentially “disastrous” and called for measures to protect farmland and prevent flooding on the Taedong river, which flows through the capital, Pyongyang.

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