Rescue workers missing in South Korea floods after boats capsize: Yonhap

SEOUL (Reuters) – Seven rescue workers were missing in South Korea after their boats overturned in floodwaters on Thursday, the Yonhap news agency reported, as heavy rain across the Korean peninsula threatened to bring new floods and landslides.

Parts of South Korea have seen 44 consecutive days of rain, the longest monsoon since 2013.

Three rescue boats overturned and were swept downstream as they were trying to free a police boat stuck in wire by a dam near the city of Chuncheon, to the northeast of Seoul, Yonhap reported.

Witnesses told Yonhap that some of the boats’ occupants had disappeared, but there was no immediate confirmation of casualties.

Elsewhere, at least 16 people have been killed and 11 were missing, with more than 1,600 people displaced over recent days.

In Seoul, the Han River swelled over its banks in some areas after authorities were forced to open floodgates on upstream dams. Some highways by the river had to be closed, Yonhap reported.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun visited some of the hardest hit areas, and urged the government to consider proposals to designate several provinces special disaster zones.

A decision on that could come by Friday, Yonhap reported, with the designation allowing areas to get more government aid.

Emergency workers implemented measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in gyms and community centres being used as shelters.

Heavy rain has also fallen in North Korea and state media published pictures of flooded streets, but did not give any detail of damage or casualties.

The government in North Korea had issued a flooding alert for areas near some its biggest rivers and lakes, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported.

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