South Korean storm toll increases to 59

Added by on July 29, 2011

Volunteers remove mud following landslide / Photo: Yonhap News Agency

Authorities in Seoul, south Korea came under a lot of pressure on Friday as the death toll during record rainfall increased to 59 dead and 10 are feared missing.

Among the people killed are 13 that died in a landslide in Chuncheon Region, 100Km east of the capital, while another 16 were killed by mudslides which hit the southern parts of Seoul on Wednesday.

The heavy downfall has left about 10,000 people from 5,200 households homeless in Seoul and Gyeonggi province. According to the state disaster agency more than 2,000 people near Paju and other areas were evacuated from their homes for fear of flooding.

The cause of the disaster is said to have been both a natural and man made due to reckless development according one the South Korea’s largest daily newspapers. Activities like development of hiking tracks and public parks are believed to hinder water absorption and also the natural waterways were changed to create artificial lakes.

According to the daily newspaper, authorities ignored experts warning that such activities would trigger such a disaster; residents living at the base of Mount Umyeon in southern Seoul believe the disaster could have been avoided.

The heavy down fall affected the densely populated capital city and surrounding areas with a population of 10m people.

Earlier this week Seoul received 536mm within three days, the most July rain that has ever fallen since records started being kept in 1907.

Large numbers Seoul citizens, local firms, and state entities have volunteered to help with the clean up of mud, debris and roads. Local businesses have also offered beverages, food and relief supplies; about 17,000 soldiers are expected to help out.

It is estimated that about 35,700 hectares (88,223 acres) of rice paddies were destroyed where the population is already suffering from serious food shortages; also destroyed are thousands of homes, hundreds of workplaces, schools and public buildings.

The south and east parts of South Korea were the worst-hit regions.