Record rain in South Korea’s capital Seoul this week flooded homes, streets and subway stations, killing at least nine people as forecasters warned of more rain to come.
The torrential rains subsided on Wednesday, although already flooded areas could receive an additional 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain by Thursday, leading to further flooding and landslides, forecasters warned.
According to South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Security, three of the dead were trapped in a flooded semi-basement. The ministry said some 17 others were injured and at least seven people were missing.
On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the deaths of two Chinese nationals. One was killed in a landslide at a hostel in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, while another suffered an electric shock during outdoor construction work during the storm.
More than 500 people have been moved to safer places and the ministry has provided tents, blankets and other support materials since the heavy rain in Seoul on Monday night. Meanwhile, officials are launching cleaning and rescue services, with the fire department having rescued 145 people till Wednesday.
According to the security ministry, around 2,800 structures were damaged, including homes, shops, retaining walls and other pieces of infrastructure, though most had been repaired as of Wednesday morning.
As of Tuesday night, parts of Seoul received up to 497 millimeters (19.6 in) of rain. At one point, the city recorded 141.5 millimeters (5.6 inches) of rain per hour – the highest rate since officials set the record in 1907.
Photos from across the city show people walking down the streets to their thighs in water during Monday’s flash floods.
In parts of Seoul, drains were backed up and water poured into streets and subway stations, according to the Seoul Metro. Several stations have been closed and temporarily suspended on Monday night due to the floods.
Subsequent photos show rubble and rubble scattered on roads, shoppers trying to save their belongings, pavement crumbling to pieces and damaged vehicles that were washed away in flood waters.
Several areas south of the Han River were worst affected, including the wealthy, modern Gangnam district, where some buildings and shops were flooded and power went out.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol offered his condolences to the victims on Tuesday, saying he would conduct an on-site inspection and work to prevent additional damage.
He also noted the need to review the country’s disaster management system, as extreme weather is expected to normalize rapidly due to the climate crisis.
Many countries in East Asia are now experiencing more intense daily rainfall, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with the summer monsoon expected to grow stronger and more unpredictable.
According to CNN meteorologists, the period of heavy rain will continue until Thursday morning before Thursday afternoon.
Seoul typically receives an average of 348 millimeters (13.7 in) of rain in August – the wettest month of the year there. In many places so much rain was recorded in just one day.
Parts of Japan also rained on Monday night, with some areas of Hokkaido reporting flooding – but no casualties as of Tuesday. Officials have warned of the risk of flash floods and landslides.