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South Korea: Thousands told to evacuate amid deadly floods

July 15, 2023

South Korea's prime minister has urged officials to respond to the floods "preemptively" and called on the military to help with the rescue efforts.

Firefighters take part in a search and rescue operation at landslide caused by torrential rain in Yecheon, South Korea
Efforts to find and save any survivors of the floods and landslides continue in South KoreaImage: Yonhap/REUTERS

At least 22 people have died and 14 were missing after heavy rain in South Korea, officials said on Saturday. Hundreds more were displaced as heavy rains over three days triggered floods and landslides.

Local media reports say that the death toll might rise going ahead.

The country's Ministry of Interior and Safety said that 1,567 people had been evacuated from their homes nationwide as of Saturday morning — a figure that is likely to increase as water overflowed from the Goesan Dam in North Chungcheong province.

A village is flooded after a dam overflowed due to torrential rain in the central county of Goesan
As of Saturday morning, the Goesan Dam was recieving more water than it could dischargeImage: Yonhap/picture alliance

As of 9 a.m. local time (0000 UTC/GMT), more than 2,700 tons of water was flowing into the dam per second which is the maximum unit it can discharge. The minister said that over 6,400 residents in the central county of Goesan were ordered to leave their homes as the Goesan Dam began to overflow submerging several low-lying villages in the region. 

Many of those who died were killed in the rain-related landslides and a collapsed building, the ministry said.

A police officer takes part in a search and rescue operation at landslide caused by torrential rains in Yecheon, South Korea
Thousands of people have been displaced by landslidesImage: Yonhap/REUTERS

Responding to the crisis

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo called on officials to respond to the crisis "preemptively" and requested the Defense Ministry to help with the rescue operations.

All train services in the country were suspended as of 2 p.m. except for the KTX bullet trains, which may run on a delayed schedule, according to the Korea Railroad Corporation. A train had derailed late on Friday impacted by a landslide in North Chungcheong province, the Transport Ministry said.

South Korea is currently one of several countries battling floods and landslides as a result of torrential rains worsened by climate change. 

Devastating monsoon rains in India cause flooding in Delhi

mk/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)