SEOUL — The South Korean government has put officials on high alert for the height of the summer monsoon season as torrential rains swept through the country on Friday, causing power outages and forcing more than 100 people to evacuate their homes. .
More than 4,000 homes have suffered power outages in the capital Seoul due to heavy rains that began on Sunday and forced 135 people to evacuate the entire country starting at 6 am, according to the Ministry of Interior and Security.
One person is missing in the southern city of Busan, while another was injured in South Jeolla province.
In a meeting with government agencies, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said ensuring «no casualties» were of the utmost importance and ordered officials to remain vigilant. More than 10,500 police officers were placed on transit duty and patrols were increased.
Last summer, the capital city of Seoul was hit by flooding from the heaviest rains in 115 years, inundating the basements of slums, including the largely prosperous Gangnam district.
North Korea has also been receiving heavy rains and may open dam floodgates on rivers flowing across the two-Korean border, Han added.
«Heavy rain is expected in Hwanghae province and we must prepare thoroughly for the possibility that North Korea may release water from its Hwanggang dam,» he said, referring to the North Central region.
Such water releases, often without warning from Pyongyang, have caused surges in rivers that in previous years caused flooding and led to deaths in the south.
The Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Friday it sent a message again last month requesting a notice in case of water release, but received no response.