South Korea rain death toll rises as Seoul to ban basement dwellings

Seoul, Aug 12 (EFE).- Seoul’s local authorities are to ban basement and semi-basement levels from being used as residences as the death toll from this week’s recent record rainfall rose to 13, according to official figures released Friday.

Another six people remain missing in Seoul and surrounding regions, and 18 were wounded, while nearly 4,000 homes were flooded, nearly 1,500 people were displaced and another 4,807 across the country were evacuated, local authorities reported Friday.

Several parts of southern Seoul, the port city of Incheon and Gyeonggi province, which surrounds the capital, received heavy rain of more than 100 millimeters per hour overnight Monday, reaching 141 millimeters in the district of Dongjak, south of Seoul, in the heaviest downpour since 1942.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo also ordered measures to designate areas affected by the heavy rain as a special disaster zone, which would mean that they can receive financial aid for recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, the new housing plan was announced Wednesday after three members of a family, two adults in their 40s and a teen girl, were killed Monday night when they were trapped in their flooded semi-basement home in Gwanak district, south of the capital.

This type of housing, which received international attention due to the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), constituted 5 percent or about 200,000 households in Seoul in 2020, according to data released by Yonhap.

The capital said it will consult with the government to review the Building Act so that the use of basements or semi-basements for residential purposes is banned, although it plans to give a grace period of up to 20 years for owners to convert them to non-residential use.

The Korea Meteorological Administration lifted the downpour warning across most of the country as of Thursday night. EFE


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