Seoul, Aug 6 (efe-epa).- Several sections of four major highways in Seoul near the Han River were closed on Thursday due to rising water levels caused by heavy rains that continue to lash the central and northern regions of South Korea.
Several sections of the Dongbu Urban, Gangbyeon Northern, Seoul Inner Loop and Olympic-daero highways were closed to traffic on Thursday due to flooding along the banks of the Han river, local news agency Yonhap reported.
The measure has caused significant bottlenecks on alternative routes in a city of nearly 10 million inhabitants, which already has considerable congestion on a daily basis.
On Wednesday, the authorities were forced to open the floodgates of two of the main dams controlling the flow of the river, causing it to swell further, to avoid even more serious flooding east and northwest of Seoul.
The heavy rains that have been lashing the region for a week have already left 16 people dead and 11 missing, most of them in North Chungcheong province, according to the South Korean government’s data.
Some 1,600 people have been evacuated in the central and northern parts of the country due to the risk of flooding and landslides.
A total of 39 roads remain cut off due to damage caused by floods and mudslides, three railway lines in the central region have been out of service since Sunday and more than 8,000 hectares of agricultural land have been flooded.
The Korea Meteorological Administration has extended the alert it had issued for the central part of the country to areas in the south.
Up to 50 millimeters (2 inches) of rainfall per hour accompanied by strong winds is expected in both regions on Thursday and Friday. EFE-EPA