Death toll rises to five as heavy rains lash South Korea (Ld)

Seoul, July 10 (IANS) Record torrential rainfall battered South Korea's southern regions on Wednesday, leaving at least five people dead and disrupting train services, authorities said.
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Death toll rises to five as heavy rains lash South Korea (Ld)

Seoul, July 10 (IANS) Record torrential rainfall battered South Korea's southern regions on Wednesday, leaving at least five people dead and disrupting train services, authorities said.

Parts of North Jeolla Province experienced record downpours starting early Wednesday morning, reports Yonhap news agency.

Gunsan, 178 kilometres south of Seoul, received 131.7 millimetres of rain within a one-hour period until 2:42 a.m. local time, marking the heaviest hourly downpour on official record nationwide.

The hourly precipitation accounts for over 10 per cent of the city's average annual rainfall of 1,246 mm.

"It was a level of severity seen once in about 200 years," a weather agency official said.

The nearby village of Hamna recorded 125.5 mm of rain per hour at one point, while other cities in the region experienced accumulated precipitation ranging from 104.5 mm to 255 mm between midnight and 6 a.m.

Heavy torrential rain also pounded parts of South Chungcheong Province, with Seocheon, 166 km south of Seoul, recording 111.5 mm of downpour per hour at one point in the early morning.

Heavy rain flooded a studio apartment building in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, at about 3 a.m., leaving one man dead in an inundated elevator. Rescuers retrieved the body and were trying to confirm his identity.

A house collapsed in a landslide in Seocheon around 4 a.m., and rescuers found a man in his 70s inside the house in cardiac arrest. He was moved to a hospital but pronounced dead.

Another man in his 70s died in Okcheon, North Chungcheong Province after his car plunged into a swollen stream around 5 a.m.

He was returning from inspecting his cattle shed when his car, while reversing, fell into the stream. Due to torrents, rescuers were only able to pull him out of the water nearly three hours after the plunge.

In the southern city of Daegu, a farmer in his 60s drowned to death after being sucked into a drainage system while inspecting his farming field.

In the South Chungcheong county of Geumsan, a woman in her 60s died after being found in cardiac arrest at 1:50 p.m. in her mud-filled house following a landslide.

Rescuers were also searching for another man in his 70s who went missing after the shipping container he was living in was damaged by heavy rain in Yeongdong, North Chungcheong Province.

In Wanju of North Jeolla, rescuers evacuated 18 villagers who were stranded due to a swollen stream, with some waiting on rooftops for help.

Torrential rain also led to the cancellation of 27 flights at Gimhae International Airport in the southeastern port city of Busan and delays for 36 others.

All train services on the Janghang Line in South Chungcheong Province and the Gyeongbuk Line in North Gyeongsang Province have been suspended till 6 p.m. local time.

KTX trains on the Gyeongbu Line, linking Seoul with Busan, were operating normally, although some were running slowly. Regular trains on the Seoul-Daegu section of the line have been suspended until noon.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 391 reports of rain damage had been made nationwide, including flooded roads, soil runoff due to landslides and submerged bridges, according to the government.

A total of 3,568 people from 2,585 households had been evacuated due to safety reasons related to heavy rain.

--IANS

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