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South Korea: 41 Dead in Torrential Flooding and Landslides

Torrential rain has battered South Korea for several consecutive days, causing landslides, flooding and power cuts. At least 41 people have been killed and 12 people are still missing. Throughout the disaster, South Koreans have shared updated stories, photos and useful tips for those affected via Twitter.

Numerous disasters

Among numerous disasters, a landslide in Woo-myun mountain which was caused by the downpours, has shocked South Koreans. The incident claimed 32 lives, including those of ten college students doing voluntary work. The mountain is located in heart of the capital city Seoul and is still the site of landmines buried during the Korean War, a threat which has prompted widespread public fear.

Heavy downpours cause flooding in Gyeong-gi Province, South Korea, Image by Twitter user @karistuck, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0).

Heavy downpours cause flooding in Gyeong-gi Province, South Korea, Image by Twitter user @karistuck, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0).

One of the nation's most popular Twitter users Dogsul (@dogsul) who has more than 110,000 followers, tweeted [ko] late on July 27:

우면산 산사태가 걱정되는 이유 중 하나는… 대인지뢰 때문입니다. 잘 알려지지 않았지만 우면산은 지뢰가 가장 많이 매설된 후방지역 중 하나입니다. 관련 기사입니다. http://t.co/Lyyzv2F

One thing that worries me regarding the Woo-myun landslide is the anti-personnel mines. Among places which used to be [used] (during the war), Woo-myun mountain is one of the most heavily concentrated areas of landmines. Here is one related article. http://t.co/Lyyzv2F [ko]

Early in the morning of July 28, a local news report [ko] quoted an army official who confirms that they have failed to retrieve about ten landmines lost during the flood.

Twitter user Funpt tweeted three photos taken by an acquaintance living near the mountain:

우면산 난리네요…twitpic.com/5wf1a0 twitpic.com/5wf1a1 twitpic.com/5wf1a2

Woo-myun mountain in chaos. Image by @Funpt.

Woo-myun mountain in chaos. Image by @Funpt.

Oh Ja-young (@urpurple) tweeted [ko] a link to a citizen media video of the mountain landslide:

우면산 산사태 동영상 tvpot.daum.net/clip/ClipViewB… […]영화 ‘해운대'는 아무것도 아닌듯. 호러물이 따로 없군요.

This is the video of Woo-myun landslide: tvpot.daum.net/clip/ClipViewB… […] The movie ‘Haeundae’ is nothing compare to this incident. It is like watching a horror movie.
Photos of apartments near the Woo-myun mountain. Image by Twitter user @stella868, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0).

Photos of apartments near the Woo-myun mountain. Image by Twitter user @stella868, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0).

Placing blame

Seo Hyung-wook(@minariboy), a football commentator, criticized [ko] the mayor of Seoul city, Oh Se-Hoon and the people of Gangnam who voted him into office. Gangnam district is one of the nation's wealthiest areas, and is also the most heavily flood-affected regions:

강남의 몰표로 시장님이 된 남자는 부임 이후 5년간 수해 예방 예산을 1/10로 줄였다. 그리고 오늘. 서초구 우면산은 무너졌고 전기는 끊겼으며 강남구 대치역과 강남역은 물바다가 되었다. 참사로 되돌아온 강남의 몰표. 선거란 얼마나 중요한 일인지.

This guy was able to became the mayor of Seoul city by garnering a landslide vote from the Gangnam area. During the past five years, he gradually cut down the budget earmarked for the flood prevention, to finally make it one-tenth of the original budget amount. As a result, Woo-myun mountain collapsed today, the electricity was cut off and the Daechi Station of Gangnam area and the Gangnam station have flooded. Gangnam people got this disaster as a return for their landslide vote. Voting is indeed important.

Peristory, a Twitter account of a non-profit organization, which analyzes economic policies for ordinary people and defends consumer rights tweeted [ko]:

서초구 방배동 우면산 산사태. 쓸려 내려온 자동차가 빌라 3층 건물에 박혀있다 http://twitpic.com/5wkokg

Landslide in Woo-myun mountain in Seocho, Bangbae-dong- This landslide has carried a car down and stuck it in the third floor of one building. (click photo) http://twitpic.com/5wkokg

It is believed [ko] that the landslide was partly caused by the construction of a tunnel near the  mountain, but Peristory pointed out [ko] that there is another reason:

우면산 산사태는 ‘이기심'이 원인인가. 서초구청은 산사태 방재공사를 평소에 하려했지만, 개인땅이 97%라 ‘반대가 너무심했고, 도저히 할수 없었다'고 http://twitpic.com/5wmbir

Has ‘selfishness’ caused this landslide? Seocho district office initially planned construction to prevent a landslide. But since 97 percent of the land is personal property, opposition was so strong that they could not get it started.

Struggling to cope

Cars struggling in Gangnam area, Seoul, South Korea, Image by Twitter user @westminia, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0)

Cars struggling in Gangnam area, Seoul, South Korea, Image by Twitter user @westminia, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0)

As the rain flooded Seoul's downtown area where several tens of thousands people commute to work daily, cars struggled to cope with the drenched roads.

Twitter user knowledge_bot tweeted [ko]:

침수지역을 지나실 때 통과해야 하나 고민되시는 경우, 자동차의 바퀴와 물의 깊이를 비교해보세요. 자동차 바퀴는 3분의 1, 화물차는 바퀴 절반 이하가 됐을 경우 지나갈 수 있습니다.

When you are torn between whether passing through the flooded area or diverting (to alternative routes), first gauge the water level and compare it with the height of your car tyre. When the water reaches below one third of the height, or half the height in case of freight cars, you can drive through the water.

A continuing tweet [ko] read:

Flood in Hongdae area, Seoul, South Korea. Image by net user 케이머스, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0)

Flood in Hongdae area, Seoul, South Korea. Image by net user 케이머스, Posted on the Wiki Tree site (CC BY 2.0)

차를 타고 물웅덩이를 통과해야 할 경우, 1단, 2단 기어로 두고 시속 10~20km로 서행 운전하세요. 물웅덩이 통과 후에는 브레이크를 여러 번 가볍게 작동시켜 브레이크 라이닝을 말려주세요.

In case of driving through water puddles, drive slowly in first or second gear. When you get past the puddles, lightly hit the brake several times to dry wet brake linings.

More photos and reports are flooding in on Twittersphere as downpour continues today. With more rain expected within next 24 hours, netizens have created a Google map to mark the damaged areas.

Update: The death toll has rose to 59 on July 29. Regarding the allegation that the Seoul city mayor's severe cut-down on the flood prevention budget has caused such disaster, Police defined it as a rumor and started a wide investigation on net users who first spread false information, local news reported [ko].

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