South Korea’s government has sadly reported that dozens of citizens have lost their lives or gone missing after relentless heavy rains across the nation this week.
The downpours began on July 9, leading to widespread flooding across parts of South Korea. In rural areas, this rainfall has also caused deadly landslides. Unfortunately, as of 6:00 PM on Saturday, July 15, the Ministry of Safety has confirmed that 22 people have passed away, with 14 remaining missing.
Most of the missing and injured citizens are from the central and southeastern regions of South Korea. The weather prompted an urgent response in these areas, with local government evacuation orders enacted on more than 7,000 residents.
Thousands have been relocated to temporary shelters, with numerous homes engulfed by water across Nonsan and other central towns. The devastation in this region accounted for five of the reported deaths, and a further two lives were claimed in Nonsan on Friday when a building collapsed, weakened by the effects of the rainfall.
In North Chungcheong, the Miho River flooded an underpass, leaving 19 vehicles trapped. While rescue officials thankfully managed to extricate nine of those caught in the flooding, one person did not survive. The operation is still ongoing to rescue the remaining trapped drivers and passengers, but efforts are being hampered by strong currents from regional dams, on top of the incessant rain. The province’s Goesan Dam, meanwhile, is also approaching maximum capacity, with over 2,700 tonnes of water per second flowing into the dam as of Saturday.
Unsurprisingly, the rain has also disrupted other forms of transportation. An engineer sustained injuries when sand and dirt from a landslide derailed a train in North Chungcheong on Friday, and the Korea Railroad Corp has suspended all further slow train services (as well as some bullet trains) as a precautionary measure.
In response to the crisis, Prime Minister Han Duck Soo has called for the military’s aid in the ongoing rescue operations. Alongside government officials, they are mobilizing resources and manpower to alleviate the situation. President, currently visiting Ukraine, has also requested the Prime Minister to utilize all available resources to address this disaster.
Weather predictions indicate more rain is on the horizon for the Korean peninsula this Sunday. Since the beginning of the rainfall, the city of Gongju and the county of Cheongyang have already received an overwhelming 600 millimeters of rain. The continued weather conditions and potential for increased rainfall amplify the urgency of the ongoing disaster management efforts.