3 dead, 3 still missing after boats capsize amid severe flooding in South Korea

Maura Kelly
·4 min read

Residents across the Korean Peninsula were hit by another round of widespread, heavy rainfall as Hagupit doused the region and brought more flooding dangers.

Widespread downpours started across the Korean Peninsula Wednesday afternoon, and continued through Thursday, causing flooding across the region.

An emergency evacuation was issued for residents near Samhwagyo Bridge in South Korea early on Thursday morning as the waters of the Imjin River rose. A total of 21 emergency shelters had been opened across the region.

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The city of Suwon reported 145 mm (5.7 inches) of rain Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon.

Near the city of Chuncheon, northeast of Seoul, a rescue worker was killed, and five others were reported missing when their boats went over Uiam Dam which had been ravaged by floodwaters on Thursday. More than 800 police and fire officials, as well as seven helicopters and 69 boats were deployed to search for the missing people.

On Friday, the capsized police vessel was found in the Bukhan River near the city of Chuncheon. This was one of three boats that went over the dam. The five workers who were swept away are still missing, according to a local news agency.

As of Saturday, authorities had located the bodies of two missing people, according to a local report.

A part of a main road and a park near the Han River are flooded due to heavy rain in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Torrential rains continuously pounded South Korea on Thursday, prompting authorities to close parts of highways and issue a rare flood alert near a key river bridge in Seoul. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Heavy rains also inundated North Korea, including the city of Sin'gye which recorded 335 mm (13 inches) of rain Wednesday night through Thursday. Cities like Pyonggang, Wonsan and Changjon all reported over 190 mm (7,5 inches) of rain by Thursday evening.

Widespread rainfall amounts of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will continue northeast across Primorsky, Russia and northern Japan into early early Saturday.

Disruptive flooding already caused disruptions across South Korea in late July after a storm system combined with high tide to inundate the city of Busan along the southern coast.

Earlier this week, on Monday, officials issued a "serious" crisis warning in South Korea after a weekend of heavy rainfall caused floodwaters to overtake cities across the region.

A storm system brought heavy rainfall to much of the Korean Peninsula this past weekend and into the start of the week, including in the capital city of Seoul, where the Han River spilled into the streets on Monday morning.

As of Tuesday, the death toll rose to 13 with another 13 still missing in South Korea due to the heavy rainfall. According to KBS News, over 1,000 people have been impacted by the flood event.

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On Monday, four people were rescued after a landslide sent mud and debris into a factory in Pyeongtaek in northwestern South Korea. One local news outlet reported that three people were found unconscious and one was seriously injured.

Streets were turned into raging rivers in the city of Cheonan after 183 mm (7.20 inches) of rainfall fell in the city from Sunday into Monday. Another 190 mm (7.48 inches) of rainfall was reported in the city of Chuncheon in just 24 hours.

Residents in Icheon City were forced to evacuate their homes as the nearby Bonjuk Reservoir began to collapse, according to local reports. Nearly one thousand people have been forced from their homes across the region due to numerous instances of flooding and landslides.

It's not unusual for heavy rain to make an appearance across the region during July and August. The front that produces the rainy season across southern China and Japan during the late spring and early summer typically shifts north by the end of the summer.

Hagupit slammed into eastern China as a typhoon early Tuesday morning and will continue to be pulled north by a stalled, nontropical front that allowed for wet weather so far in August.

Through Wednesday morning, Hagupit still managed to hold on to tropical storm status as it emerged in the Yellow Sea late Wednesday. Hagupit later lost wind strength and became a tropical rainstorm as it shifted northeastward and became absorbed by the nontropical front.

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