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Rains, flooding wreak havoc in South Korea, Vietnamese expats apprehensive

Thu Huong was anxiously waiting all night for her husband to return home as record rainfall battered the South Korean capital Seoul.

Ngày đăng: 11 tháng 8, 2022
Cập nhật: 27 tháng 8, 2022
Lượt xem: 404315542
Nguồn: vnexpress

"Last night's flooding left everyone stunned," the 40-year-old in Incheon City told VnExpress about one of the worst floods in decades that swamped Seoul Monday night (local time).

Her husband works in Gangnam District, one of the places with the highest flooding levels. It is a low-lying area, and runoff water overwhelmed its drainage system.

Normally, it took her husband around an hour and a half to take the subway and a bus to reach Incheon. But on Monday night, after he got on a train as the subway station was still open, it stopped after about five kilometers.

He waited for nearly an hour before beginning to panic as the floodwaters flowed into the subway tunnel. He and other passengers rushed back to above ground to find other means of transport.

According to local officials, the volume of rain in Seoul's Dongjak District exceeded 141.5 mm per hour at one point and the rapidly rising waters flooded homes, streets and subway stations.

Many places in Seoul and surrounding areas like Incheon and Gyeonggi Province recorded over 100 mm of rain per hour.

Realizing that many streets were flooded, Huong's husband took a bus and then a taxi to reach home, a journey that took nearly six hours.

They had only made a few short calls to reassure each other since she was afraid his phone battery might run out.

"I was anxious all night, worried my husband would lose contact.

"I was relieved only when he came home at dawn. He ate a bowl of rice at 2 a.m., slept for a few hours and took the bus to work at 7 a.m."

A bridge is submerged by torrential rain of the previous day at Han river in Seoul, South Korea, August 9, 2022. Photo by Reuters

Ngoc Mo, a Vietnamese who has been in South Korea for six years and is currently living in Seoul, said she was shocked by the severity of the flood.

The news that three people living in a semi-basement house died because they could not get out in time made her think about the 2019 movie Parasite.

Semi-basement houses beneath apartment buildings are mainly rented by workers and students, including foreigners, due to their low cost.

"Many low-income families live there because the cost of living in Seoul is too high," she said.

Flooding also caused public transportation to be shut down as eight railway lines and subways were flooded in Seoul, Incheon and elsewhere.

Bus and subway services and many riverside parking lots were shut down that night due to safety concerns.

Hanh, a second year student at Seoul's Myongji University, said the floodwaters rose rapidly, rising halfway up the sides of buses besides completely paralyzing the subway in some areas.

The Seoul government has advised people to go to work after 11 a.m. if conditions permit because the public transport system has not fully recovered.

Some Vietnamese expressed fears about further flooding in Seoul and surrounding areas since the Korean Meteorological Administration forecast more heavy rains soon.

Hoang Nam, 30, a Vietnamese living in the Gangnam area, said by Tuesday morning the water had receded from the streets in the central area and traffic was flowing again though in some places there were cars that had stalled the previous night.

Abandoned vehicles that were submerged in flooded streets during torrential rain the previous night, block a road in Seoul, South Korea, August 9, 2022. Photo by Reuters

But the park near the Han River remained submerged, he said.

During his four years in Gangnam, the neighborhood flooded once before due to heavy rain, but the water had receded rapidly, he said.

"Authorities in some areas have sent out warnings and evacuation advisories to people’s phones. The ward I live in has not send such warning messages perhaps because this area is still safe."

Ngoc Hue, an office worker in Gangnam, said this was the heaviest rain she had ever seen during her eight years in Korea. But the downtown area has modern drainage infrastructure, and so the waters had mostly drained by next morning.

The bus service from her house near the Dongdeamun area to her office has returned to normal, she said.

Some subway services are still suspended as authorities wait for pumps and inspection and maintenance work to be completed.

Huong expressed concern, saying, "Homeless people and those living in low-lying areas and semi-basement houses must be miserable after the flooding."

Reuters reported that at least eight people died in and around Seoul on Monday and Tuesday.


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