Seoul, South Korea
At least nine people were killed in Seoul on Monday after record-breaking rain flooded homes, roads and subway stations in the South Korean capital, knocking out power and forcing hundreds to evacuate, authorities said.
South Korea’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security said three of the dead were trapped in a flooded semi-basement. Nine others were injured and at least seven people remain missing, the ministry said.
A total of 422 millimeters (16.6 inches) of rain fell in parts of Seoul as of midnight Monday local time, prompting authorities to raise the highest level 3 emergency alert. The city recorded 141.5 millimeters (5.6 inches) of rain per hour, the highest rate since authorities began keeping records.
Additional bouts of heavy rain are forecast to move through Seoul by Thursday, which could lead to further flash flooding in the region.
Heavy rain warnings are in effect for the metropolitan area and Gangwon-do, where rainfall of 50 to 100 millimeters (2-4 inches) per hour is possible, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
Pictures from across the city during Monday’s flash floods showed people wading along roads up to their thighs in water.
Although the floodwaters had largely receded by Tuesday morning, cars and buses were scattered across roads and sidewalks, blocking morning traffic.
In some parts of Seoul, sewage backed up and water poured back onto streets and subway stations, according to the Seoul Metro. A number of metro stations were closed due to flooding, with lines temporarily suspended on Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, authorities were still working to reopen the stations.
Several regions south of the Han River were hardest hit, including the affluent modern district of Gangnam, where some buildings and shops were flooded and lost power.
About 800 residents were evacuated to schools and gymnasiums or voluntarily sought shelter in local community centers as floods affected more than 700 houses and shops, according to authorities.
The President of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol sent its condolences to the victims on Tuesday, saying it would conduct an on-site inspection and work to prevent further damage.
He also pointed to the need to review the country’s disaster management system as extreme weather is expected to become more frequent due to the climate crisis.
Many countries in East Asia are now experiencing more intense daily rainfall, with summer monsoons expected to become stronger and more unpredictable as the Earth warms, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
According to CNN meteorologists, more heavy rain will hit Seoul on Tuesday evening and continue into Thursday morning before ending on Thursday afternoon.
Already flooded areas could see an additional 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain – which could lead to further flooding and mudslides.
Seoul typically receives an average of 348 millimeters (13.7 inches) of rain in August, the wettest month of the year there. Few places recorded this much rainfall in just one day.
Parts of Japan there were also downpours on Monday evening, with some regions of Hokkaido reporting flooding – but no injuries as of Tuesday. Authorities warned of the danger of flash floods and landslides.