At least eight people died in and around Seoul overnight, South Korean authorities said yesterday, after torrential rain knocked out power, caused landslides and left roads and subways submerged.
The southern part of the national capital received more than 100mm of rain per hour on late Monday, with some parts of the city hit with 141.5mm, the heaviest rainfall in decades, according to Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA). The accumulated rainfall in Seoul since midnight Monday stood at 451mm as of 2pm yesterday, with more forecast.
President Yoon Suk-yeol yesterday visited a semi-basement apartment where three family members had died the night before after swift moving flood waters filled the space. The dangers of such underground flats, called banjiha, were famously depicted in a flooding scene in the 2020 Oscar-winning film “Parasite.”
Yoon told the area’s residents he would try to ensure their lives returned to normal as quickly as possible, and he instructed officials to look at measures to better ensure housing safety, according to a statement from his office.
At least five people had died in Seoul and three others in the neighbouring Gyeonggi Province by early yesterday, the central disaster and safety countermeasures headquarters said.
Four, including the three family members, had died after being drowned in flooded buildings, one was believed to have been electrocuted, another person was found under the wreckage of a bus stop, and the others two died in a landslide, it said.
At least nine people were injured, while seven were missing.
In the glitzy, dense Gangnam district, some buildings and stores were flooded and were 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 of Monday evening, saying the situation reminded her of a scene from the 1997 film “Titanic”.
“I had to keep going higher and higher because the building was submerging at a fast pace...I couldn’t believe that I was trapped in building with 40 other people in the middle of Gangnam district,” said the mother-of-two, who eventually had to spend the night at a Pilates centre on the fourth floor.
Data showed at least 765 facilities had been damaged. About 52 highways and roads have been blocked. About 391 people were displaced in the greater Seoul area, most of whom had to stay at local schools and gyms.
Cars damaged by floodwaters are seen on a street in Gangnam district, Seoul, yesterday.