TORRENTIAL rains pelt South Korea; 26 people dead, 13 missing

Sunday, July 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A storm brought heavy rains to South Korea overnight, triggering landslides and flooding that killed at least 26 people, government officials said Sunday.

Thirteen 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.

``More accident reports are coming in. We expect the death toll to rise,'' said Kim Dong-suk, a spokesman at the National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters.

South Korea's all-news cable channel, YTN, said 36 people died and 15 were missing nationwide.

Up to 12.2 inches of rain had fallen in Seoul and Kyonggi, a populous province surrounding the capital. The rain let up in the afternoon, but forecasters expected the downpour to continue later in the evening.

Nearly 15,000 homes in the northern part of South Korea had been flooded. By Sunday afternoon, some residents were returning to clear garbage, mud and debris from their homes.

River waters, which had risen above their banks and spilled onto roads, receded, leaving overturned cars in their wake.

Three of Seoul's seven main subway lines temporarily halted service to some stations because of flooding. One of the lines resumed full service early Sunday, and the other two were expected to be running trains to all stations by early Monday, officials said.

In Seoul, 15 people were killed, including at least five who died after being electrocuted by streetlights submerged in floodwaters, officials said. Three people died in Incheon, west of Seoul.

Among eight people killed in Kyonggi were Ahn Tae-suk, 51, his wife Lee Jung-hee, 53, and 14-year-old son Hyun-jin, who were found dead in their basement house, buried by a mudslide, officials said.

Disaster officials said they were working to gather details on reports of those dead or missing.

About 9,000 disaster officials have been mobilized, and 1,050 military troops have been dispatched to storm-damaged regions to deal with emergencies, the government said.