Gov’t to declare rain-hit regions special disaster zones
The government is moving to designate special disaster zones in the nation’s interior, paving the way for state support for the central regions that have seen losses of life and property damage due to deadly downpours.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun ordered the relevant ministries to review the necessity of the declaration of special disaster zones, during a Cabinet meeting in Seoul, Tuesday.
“Ministries should map out plans promptly, including the declaration of special disaster zones, to support regions hit hard by the latest torrential rain,” Chung said. “Government officials should continue to stay on high alert to prevent additional loss of life and minimize property damage.”
The comments came as Seoul, and Gyeonggi and North Chungcheong provinces alongside other central areas have been suffering heavy rain since Saturday.
The declaration of the special disaster zones allows the administration to use state money to financially support damage recovery. It also allows affected people to receive state support for their livelihood costs.
According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters under the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, 15 people have been killed, with 11 others still missing as of 7:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Among the fatalities were a family of three, including a two-year-old boy, who were killed Monday after a guesthouse they operated was engulfed in a mudslide in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province.
The massive downpours have forced the suspension of some train services, the shutdown of roads and the closure of low-lying bridges.
The disaster authorities are staying vigilant as the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) forecast that the interior will continue to experience rainfall of 50 millimeters to 100 millimeters per hour until today, as the nation remains under the influence of Typhoon Hagupit.
According to the state-run weather agency, the fourth typhoon of the season was over waters 280 kilometers northeast of China’s Fuzhou at 4 a.m., Tuesday.
The total amount of rainfall was forecast to reach up to 500 millimeters from Saturday to Wednesday.
The monsoon season in the central regions of the country, which began June 24 this year, has lasted 42 days as of today, the fourth-longest on record.
The nation’s interior experienced the longest rainy season in 2013, lasting 49 days. The KMA noted the ongoing torrential rain that has also hit China and Japan was caused by global warming.
“Climate changes in the Arctic and Siberia have led to massive downpours in East Asia including Korea,” a KMA official said.
Residents in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, look around their village, Tuesday, after the downpour since Saturday triggered a series of mudslides and severe flooding.