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South Korea Hit by Fatal Flooding and Landslides

South Korea Flood & LandslideOverflowing streams and muddy wreckage were searched by thousands of police and soldiers on Thursday in an attempt to find survivors and victims after flooding and mudslides overwhelmed central South Korea. Due to torrential rains, dozens of people have been killed and reported missing, while explosives (active land mines) have also disappeared under the water and mud.

According to the nation’s weather bureau, over 19.5 inches of rain have fallen in the capital, Seoul, since late Tuesday, making this South Korea’s heaviest downpour in the month of July since 1907. The rain doesn’t seem to be letting up in the country’s mountainous regions, and authorities have had to draft in the military to assist with rescue and clean up efforts. Over 4,500 people are said to have been forced from their homes, while many homes are also without power, and about 1,200 people are said to have taken shelter in churches and public buildings.

Ministry of Knowledge Economy head of disaster management Cho Ju Young says that they are worried that even the smallest bit of further rain will cause more landslides due to the soil being so wet already. The situation needs to continue to be watched closely, he added. A spokesman for emergency services says that they have asked the Defence Ministry and police for aid, as the floods need to be controlled under a cooperative system across the nation.

Bridges were closed over the Han River, which runs through Seoul’s center. The rain was causing rivers to burst their banks, which triggered power outages and disrupted road travel. On Wednesday, morning commuters found mud-blocked roads, with large stretches of boulevards in the capital made into brown pools, and only the roofs of cars left by owners could be seen.

One of the worst accident was a mudslide that crashed into 3 small hotels in Chuncheon, a mountain resort located about 60 miles from Seoul. This particular incident happened on Wednesday and resulted in at least 13 deaths. Another 13 people were found dead, 10 of which were university students, after a landslide smashed into the lodgings of a summer camp, where children and the university students were sleeping on Tuesday around midnight.

Due to the number of deaths from the record-breaking downpour, the government announced on Thursday that it will strengthen guidelines for steep slopes and mountains that are vulnerable to intense rains in order to prevent the recurrence of deadly incidents. Vice home minister Kim Man-seok told a policy consultation meeting that the government will revise the current guidelines to reflect unusual conditions in order to minimise damage by flooding in areas that are prone to downpours. They will also revise guidelines to make the most effort in restoring the damage.

Kim Hwang-sik, the prime minister, says the government will provide aid to the victims of the disaster using emergency funds. It will also prepare an emergency response system in order to minimise the damage caused by extraordinary weather situations.

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