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Deluge Soaks South Korea; Slides and Flooding Kill 40

July 16, 2001|From Associated Press

SEOUL — Heavy rains soaked South Korea overnight, triggering landslides and flooding that killed at least 40 people, government officials said Sunday.

Fourteen people were missing, including eight tourists who were swept away in rain-swollen streams in Kapyong, a camping resort 22 miles northeast of Seoul, authorities said.

The confirmed deaths consisted of 19 people who were electrocuted, 17 swept away in rain-swollen streams and four buried in landslides, officials said. Most of the victims died in Seoul and surrounding areas.

President Kim Dae Jung urged his Cabinet to speed the cleanup, chief spokesman Park Joon Young said.

As the rain let up Sunday afternoon, thousands of soldiers and government officials helped flood victims clear garbage, mud and debris. About 34,000 homes were flooded in Seoul and Kyonggi, a populous area surrounding the capital.

Nearly 500 cars were reportedly destroyed or swept away in floods. Television footage showed dozens of cars piled up in low-lying areas after drifting in the water.

Rainfall in Seoul measured 3.91 inches per hour. In all, 12.2 inches of rain fell in Seoul and Kyonggi.

About 3,700 acres of farmland, mostly rice paddies, were flooded, and three of Seoul's seven main subway lines temporarily interrupted service.

Forecasters Sunday were urging people in southern South Korea to brace for more downpours.

"We may see more damage and human losses from the southern region, which was relatively unscathed [Sunday]," said Kim Dong Suk, a spokesman at the National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters.

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