Heavy rainfall, which started on Monday August 8, has caused major floods in South Korea’s capital Seoul, swamping roads, metro stations and destroying low-income underground apartments.
At least nine people have died and six others have gone missing as the country was hit by the heaviest rain in 80 years.
Three of the victims included a 47-year-old woman, her sister, and her 13-year-old daughter who drowned after their underground apartment flooded.
Neighbors tried to save them, but the water level rose in a matter of seconds and their bodies were found at 11:30pm on Monday after authorities drained their house, according to local news.
Basement apartments, known as banjiha, was famously depicted in the Oscar-winning movie “Parasite”, which showed the dangers of living in the almost underground-like flat during rainy seasons.
Authorities have not reported other casualties in underground apartment neighborhoods, but families living in the low-income houses have seen their belongings and living space completely damaged by the flood.
“I have to throw away all my belongings, computer and even dishes. I can’t do anything about it,” one resident told Reuters.
Residents have complained about the government’s negligence towards them.
“Since our flats are located in narrow streets instead of the main street, [the government] may not pay attention to us. There’s certainly difference between wealthy village [and us],” another resident told Reuters.
President Yoon Suk-yeol visited the apartment where the women died and issued a statement promising to work with officials to ensure better housing safety.
As of Tuesday, at least 1,400 people were displaced in the Greater Seoul area with many people taking refuge in schools and community centers.
South Korean authorities have recorded the highest amount of rainfall in decades with some areas receiving 497mm of rain and up to 141.5mm of rain per hour, which is the highest rate of rainfall in 115 years, according to CNN.
Images and videos show once bustling cities and metro stations flooded with water. While cars and buses were nearly or completely submerged.
“I couldn’t believe that I was trapped in building with 40 other people in the middle of Gangnam district due to floods. It reminds me of Titanic. I was so scared,” one local resident told Reuters.
Authorities predict the rainfall will continue until Wednesday.
The Korea Meteorological Administration expects the country will experience more intense and frequent rainfall due to climate change.