SEOUL -- A series of torrential rainfalls, caused by dense rain clouds that moved slowly through the central and southern regions of the Korean Peninsula, caused dozens of catastrophic lethal accidents that left 50 people dead or missing over a period of nine days between July 9 and July 18, 2023.
Normally, South Korea experiences a rainy season called "Jangma" in July and August every year. However, this year's Jangma season was different. During previous rainy seasons, rain clouds that formed in the Yellow Sea or the Pacific Ocean traveled across the Korean Peninsula, which is about 300 kilometers (186 miles) wide, very quickly.
However, in July 2023, dense rain clouds were trapped in a wind tunnel that formed over the central and southern parts of South Korea to move very slowly from west to east, letting out torrential rain. According to data released by the Korea Meteorological Administration, South Korea would see more than twice the average annual rainfall in the summer of 2023 due to slowly moving dense rain clouds.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said that a total of 41 people died and nine are missing as of 6:00 a.m. (2100 GMT) on July 18 due to rain-related accidents and disasters. The casualty toll has reached the country's second-highest since the summer of 2011 when 78 people were killed or went missing because of accidents caused by heavy rainfall.
217 cases of severe road damage and 131 cases of soil erosions were reported. 159 cases involving damaged river banks were also reported. Some 27,000 hectares of farmlands, which is about the size of 38,000 football fields, were damaged by rain. Two main bullet train routes and 11 train routes were temporarily closed.
The state weather service predicted that up to 100 millimeters of rain will fall in the central and southern areas on July 18 and 19.
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