South Korea Braces for More Rain Amid Fatal Floods, Landslides
South Korea forecast more rain as emergency workers battled flash floods and landslides that killed at least 47 people amid a record deluge in Seoul.
The heaviest July rain on record in the capital triggered a mudslide in a residential area in the city’s south yesterday that claimed 16 lives while another 13 perished when a hillside gave way near Chuncheon, 75 kilometers (50 miles) to the east.
“We’re worried that even a little bit more rain could cause further landslides because the soil is so wet now,” said Cho Ju Young, head of the disaster management team at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. “People need to keep watching the situation closely.”
Seoul was hit with 534.5 millimeters (21 inches) of rain between midnight July 26 and 5 p.m. today, the most on record for a 65-hour period in July, said Lee Hyun Gyu, a spokesman at the Korea Meteorological Administration. As much as 60 millimeters is expected nationwide through tomorrow, he said.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, Storm Nock-Ten killed 31 people as it passed the nation’s eastern provinces. An Asiana Airlines (020560) Inc. cargo plane that crashed into the sea southwest of Jeju Island on its way from Seoul to Shanghai was probably downed by problems with its controls and not bad weather, according to South Korea’s transport ministry.
About 9,440 South Koreans were evacuated from flooded homes, said Kang Sun Mu, a spokesman at the Disaster & Safety Management Office. About 3,540 were still sheltering in nearby churches, schools and buildings as of 5 p.m., he said. A total of 6,680 soldiers were mobilized for rescue and repair work, Kang said.
North Korea was also affected, with about 6,000 people evacuated from their homes, Yonhap News reported, citing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. South Hamgyeong and Hwanghae provinces received more than 300 millimeters of rain between July 26 and today, Yonhap said.
As much as 760 hectares (1,880 acres) of farmland in South Korea was flooded, according to Kang. There were as many as 86 power outages across the country, though electricity was restored to most of the affected houses or buildings by 5 p.m., according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Among the most recent deaths, seven people died after a landslide in the town of Pocheon, north of Seoul, and three people were killed in the town of Paju after the ceiling of a factory collapsed, Kang said.
Insurers dropped in morning trading on the Korea Exchange before erasing some of their losses by the 3 p.m. close in Seoul. LIG Insurance Co. dropped 0.6 percent, Dongbu Insurance Co. declined as much as 3.1 percent before ending unchanged and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co. slipped 2.3 percent and recovered to close 0.9 percent higher.
Automobile insurers may have to payout about 40.3 billion won ($38 million) in damages claims, the Financial Supervisory Service said in an e-mailed statement. The General Insurance Association of Korea said it doesn’t have an immediate estimate on costs.
Samsung Electronics Co. has set up a team to repair customers’ rain-soaked products, said James Chung, a Seoul-based spokesman. The area around the company’s office in the capital was inundated yesterday, though there was no damage to Samsung’s business, he said.
The nation’s ruling Grand National Party is concerned that concentration of damage in affluent parts of southern Seoul, which it considers to be a key constituency, could have an electoral impact, the Herald Business newspaper reported on its website today. Party Chairman Hong Joon Pyo shortened a trip to Daegu City, south of Seoul to visit the nation’s central disaster control center today, according to the report.
There were no disruptions to flights at the nation’s biggest airfield, said Lee Ho Sun, a spokesman at Incheon International Airport.
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