Landslides and flooding kill 32 after heavy rain in South Korea

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The Independent Online

Torrential rain battered the South Korean capital Seoul and surrounding regions yesterday, causing dozens of landslides and flash floods that killed at least 32 people.

In the worst single accident, a landslide crashed into a mountain resort at Chuncheon, east of Seoul, destroying three small hotels and killing at least 13 people. A resident reported hearing what sounded like a train.

"Then I heard someone shouting, 'Help me'. So I went out to see and I saw a landslide had swept all over the area," she said.

Another landslide on the outskirts of Seoul buried dozens of houses and killed at least 10 residents, local media reported. One villager was missing. A tributary of the Han River running through Gonjiam, about 30 miles south-east of Seoul, had overflowed and killed five residents, Yonhap news agency reported.

Wild weather has battered the central region of the country since late on Tuesday, causing rivers to burst their banks, disrupting travel and triggering power cuts. More than 60,000 homes were still without electricity yesterday.

At Chuncheon, troops were drafted in to help with the rescue operation after a wall of mud flattened the small hotels shortly after midnight. More than 40 holidaymakers, mostly students, were sleeping in the inns when the landslide hit. One, Lee Beon-seok, told a television station:"We were asleep and suddenly I heard a big sound, and then the ceiling fell down." Officials said 26 people were injured.

About 16in of rain fell on Seoul in 24 hours and the weather bureau said the heavy rain would last until tomorrow.