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Heaviest Rain in 100 Years Hits Korea Updated: 2011-08-01 00:00:00 KST

Heavy streams of rain keep on falling without stop. It is as if the sky is falling apart.
Just when we thought the rainy spell was behind us, central Korea was hit by torrential showers that totalled to over 530mm in three days.

[Interview : Wu Bok-jin, Seoul resident] "The rain just poured down. It was not like it was raining but more like someone was pouring it down in buckets. It was impossible to cope with."

[Interview : Kim Seon-ja, Seoul resident] "It was scary. I think it was the heaviest rain in my entire life."

The relentless rain flooded roads in Gwanghwamun[광화문] and Gangnam, the two city centers of Seoul. Commuting became impossible as roads were flooded and subway trains stopped running.

Rapid currents seen only in rivers engulfed the streets. Never has the weather been so cruel as this summer.

Cars had to drive through roads that became rivers in the incredible storm.

[Interview : Kang Seon-gu, Seoul resident] "The water came to our thighs. As soon as I got off, I was swept by the strong currents. I fell down, and my umbrella was broken."

Sewers overflowed, causing many buildings to be flooded. People fled their homes from the gushing water. Appliances and furniture floated about in the streets and homeowners couldn't do anything but stare at the destruction.

[Interview : Kim Hoi-cheol, Employee
Korea Meteorological Administration] "An incredible 530mm of rain fell over Seoul from the 26th until 2 PM on the 28th."

The rain also caused lives to be lost. A tourist lodging facility in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province collapsed under a landslide, causing 13 deaths and 20 injured. The victims were university students on a volunteer project.

[Interview : ] "I came out because I heard a loud noise, like a train engine. I heard people calling for help and saw that they had been swept by the landslide."

Landslides are the biggest worry in mountainous Korea.

The heavy rain caused a landslide in Umyeon mountain in Seoul. The torrent of mud gushed upon roads and houses, destroying neighborhoods in the vicinity. 20 households in a suburban village were buried in mud.

The unexpected landslide also took lives. 16 died while 3 went missing. 400 people were evacuated.

[Interview : Jeon Ji-sun, Seoul resident] "There is just so much water flooding in that it can't be blocked. It began at around 7:30 to 8 AM today. Everything in the room including furniture is floating around in the water."

[Interview : PD] "Has this happened before in the neighbourhood[Interview : Kim Eun-suk, Seoul resident] "No. I have been living here for over 20 years, and this is the first time such a thing has happened."

A broadcasting station on the skirts of Umyeon mountain had to stop its live program midway as mud flooded into the studio.

The National Gugak Center and Seoul Arts Center also suffered damages. All performances have been put on hold until the facilities are restored.

[Interview : Yu Song-yi, Seoul resident] "The asphalt is twisted and the vending machines were turned over by trees and rocks from the mountain."

[Interview : Ma Jin-uk, Seoul resident] "The rain has caused landslides and flooding of roads and houses. I'm scared this might happen in my neighborhood. I wake up at night and double check my windows."

What could have caused all this rain[Interview : Kim Hoi-cheol, Employee
Korea Meteorological Administration] "Warm and humid air from the South kept blowing into our atmosphere, meeting with the cold and dry air from the North to create extremely unstable atmospherical conditions. Central Korea is where the two winds met to create heavy showers. This was made worse by high pressure created in the Northeast, holding back the pressure system flowing from the West to the East. This caused the rain to be concentrated on a limited surface."

Amidst the relentless rain, there has been one source of real time information on rain damage and traffic conditions. It is none other than Twitter. People shared their tips on which roads to avoid and detours to make on the mobile sns.

[Interview : Kim Hui-seon, Seoul resident] "Many roads were flooded yesterday. I tried to go through that area yesterday but failed. I got information from Twitter today about the areas that were cordoned off, so I chose a different route."

The government is also working on disaster recovery. A joint countermeasure headquarters has been set up in Seoul combining the strengths of the government, police force and army. 10,000 employees are on emergency duty at the Seoul metropolitan government.

[Interview : Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul] "We will do our best to cooperate in managing this disaster by establishing a joint disaster countermeasures headquarters between the government, army and police."

[Interview : Park Nam-su, Commander] "We will mobilize all available troops to enable swift recovery from the disaster."

The capital defense command also dispatched 5,000 troops and equipment to affected areas of Seoul to carry out rescue and restoration works.

1500 troops were sent to clear away mud in the areas near Umyeon Mountain.

[Interview : Lee Yu-ja, Seoul resident] "From now on, we have to be prepared for anything to avoid similar disasters in the future. Nobody thought this would happen, or that the capital city would suffer such huge damages. If we don't prepare for rainstorms in the future, we could suffer even greater damages."

The worst rain in a century hit central Korea out of the blue.

The torrential rain caused huge material damages and the loss of many lives.

Let's hope that such a disaster never repeats itself.


It reminds me of the recording-breaking snowfall we had in the winter where snow kept piling up higher than the level of the cars.
My poor little pink rainboots offered no protection.
There was no warning. It happened all of a sudden.
We hope that those who are suffering will recover soon.
Many people had heavy hearts over what they lost from the storms.
The help that has poured out has been quite inspiring and I glad that it can continue.
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