Unrelenting rain wreaking havoc

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Unrelenting rain wreaking havoc

Torrential downpours have continued to drench Seoul, Gyeonggi and Gangwon over the past two days, leaving mayhem and destruction in their wake.

An average of around 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain poured into southern and eastern Gyeonggi, driving hundreds of people from their homes.

A heavy-rain warning was issued for some districts of Seoul, Guri in Gyeonggi and Cheorwon in Gangwon yesterday morning when an average of around 30 millimeters of rain streamed down per hour.

The National Emergency Management Agency said that a total of 207 residences in Seoul, Osan, Yeoju, Gwangju and Yongin were flooded, leaving 462 victims. It added that about 800 hectares (1967.8 acres) of farmland in the regions were inundated as well.

Local governments in the regions provided shelter and food at schools and government buildings. In Daesin-myeon, Yeoju, a 42-meter embankment of the Okchon Reservoir broke on Monday, flooding 10 hectares of adjacent farmland.

In Icheon, Gyeonggi, a 32-meter dike on the Daegwan Reservoir broke as well.

The weather agency said the capital had about 140 millimeters of rain over the past two days, with an additional 62.5 millimeters to come by midnight. It said Gyeonggi would see about 150 more millimeters overnight.

Yangpyeong had seen 48.5 millimeters of rain yesterday as of press time, Icheon 37, and Suwon 50.5.

Vehicles and pedestrians were kept off the Jamsu Bridge, which runs low over the Han River under the Banpo Bridge.

Roads along the Yangjae Stream in southern Seoul were also shut for the second day in a row.

On Monday, areas near Gangnam and Sadang stations on subway line No.2 were inundated with about 10 to 20 centimeters (3.94 to 7.87 inches) of rain, causing serious traffic congestion during morning rush hour.

The Seoul city government has come under fire for its failure to properly utilize facilities built specifically to prevent such problems.

In 2011, three large rain tanks with a capacity of 15,000 tons were created in flooding-prone areas between Gangnam and Seocho stations and near Sadang Station, but the city didn’t put them to proper use despite many areas, including part of the Gangnam Boulevard, getting flooded.

“We judged that the situation wasn’t serious enough to use the tanks,” said a city government spokesman.

BY KANG CHAN-SOO AND KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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