The Koreas

South Korea Searches for Missing People as Death Toll From Downpours Reaches 41

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The Koreas | Environment | East Asia

South Korea Searches for Missing People as Death Toll From Downpours Reaches 41

Torrential rains since July 9 have caused landslides and flooding, killing at least 41 people and displacing over 12,700.

South Korea Searches for Missing People as Death Toll From Downpours Reaches 41

South Korean defense personnel conduct search and rescue operations in North Chungcheong province on July 15, 2023.

Credit: Ministry of National Defense, Republic of Korea

Rescuers searched Tuesday for nine people still missing in landslides and other incidents caused by more than a week of torrential rains in South Korea, as the country’s military dispatched more than 10,000 troops to support rescue works.

The downpours pounding South Korea since July 9 have left 41 people dead, nine missing and 35 others injured. The rainfall has also forced about 12,780 people to evacuate and left about 28,600 households without power.

During a Cabinet Council meeting Tuesday, President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered officials to mobilize all available resources to rescue any possible additional survivors, assist victims, and conduct recovery works.

Yoon said the government plans to designate major rain-stricken areas as special disaster zones to help speed up the recovery.

The Defense Ministry separately said it was sending equipment and 11,000 soldiers on Tuesday to support government efforts to find the missing people and restore damages.

Much of the severe damage has been reported in South Korea’s central and southern regions, with the nine missing people listed in the southeastern North Gyeongsang province or the southeastern city of Busan.

Also, 14 fatalities were reported from a tunnel in the central city of Cheongju, where 17 vehicles including a bus were trapped in a flash flood that may have filled up the passageway. Authorities earlier mobilized divers and other workers to rescue survivors and retrieve bodies before they reportedly ended searches inside the tunnel on Monday night.

Severe weather was also affecting many other places around the world. Earlier this month, relentless flooding also deluged parts of India, Japan, China, Turkey, and the United States.

Although the destructive floods are occurring in different parts of the world, atmospheric scientists say they have this in common: With climate change, storms are forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall a more frequent reality now.