At least eight dead in Seoul after South Korean capital suffers worst flooding in 80 years

·2 min read
A man stands beside submerged cars in Seoul, South Korea, on 8 August, 2022. (REUTERS)
A man stands beside submerged cars in Seoul, South Korea, on 8 August, 2022. (REUTERS)

Eight people have died and seven others are still missing in Seoul after it was buffeted by its heaviest rainfall in 80 years.

The torrential rain on Monday evening turned some of the South Korean capital’s streets into rivers and submerged subways. It also cut off power and caused landslides in and around the city.

Four of the victims drowned in flooded buildings, two died in a landslide, one person was electrocuted and another was found beneath a bus stop that had collapsed.

The authorities said that nine people in Seoul and the neighbouring Gyeonggi province were injured as a result of the extreme weather event.

The worst-hit Dongjak district received more than 140mm (5.5in) of rain in one hour on Monday night, the highest hourly amount seen in the capital since 1942.

In total, the area saw 430mm (17in) of rain between Monday and midday on Tuesday, the country’s weather agency said.

The busy Gangnam district was also badly affected, with people left stranded as buildings and stations flooded.

Lim Na-kyung, a 31-year-old mother of two, compared her experiences there on Monday night to 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," she said.

A bridge is flooded in Seoul on 9 August, 2022 (REUTERS)
A bridge is flooded in Seoul on 9 August, 2022 (REUTERS)

More than 750 buildings were damaged and 52 roads were blocked as a result of the floodwater, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said. Almost 400 people were evacuated to schools and community centres, it added.

Yoon Suk-yeol, the South Korean president, chaired an emergency response meeting, saying the government needs to review its disaster management system in light of “abnormal weather caused by climate change”.

Meanwhile, an official at the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) warned that heavy summer rainfall was becoming more common. "This phenomenon is seen occurring more often due to climate change that has resulted in a prolonged summer,” they said.

The KMA has predicted that the heavy rainfall will continue in central South Korea until at least Wednesday.