Seoul flooding: Several people dead amid record rain in South Korea

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At least eight people have been killed after some of the heaviest rain in decades swamped South Korea’s capital region.

Seoul’s streets were transformed into car-clogged rivers, as floodwaters cascaded into underground metro stations.

More than 43 centimetres of rain were measured in Seoul’s hardest-hit Dongjak district from Monday to noon Tuesday. The per-hour precipitation in that area exceeded 14 centimetres — the highest hourly downpour measured in Seoul since 1942.

Some of the victims were found drowned in their homes, while at least seven other people remain missing.

Workers have begun clearing uprooted trees, mud and debris from roads with excavators, although more rain was forecast on Tuesday.

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

Landslide warnings have also been issued in nearly 50 cities and towns, while 160 hiking paths in Seoul and the mountainous Gangwon province are 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. 

Rescue workers say they 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 died at her home in the nearby Dongjak district, while a public worker died while clearing up fallen trees, likely from electrocution.

Three other people were found dead in the debris of landslides and a collapsed bus station in the nearby cities of Gwangju and Hwaseong. Four people remain missing in southern Seoul’s Seocho district.

The country’s weather agency has maintained a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and nearby regions on Tuesday.

The South Korean military was prepared to deploy troops to help with recovery efforts if requested by cities or regional governments, said Defense Ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-Sik.

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