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Seoul commuters battle fallout from intense rain

Cars abandoned Monday due to flooding remain stranded on Tuesday morning on the roads of Gangnam, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)
Cars abandoned Monday due to flooding remain stranded on Tuesday morning on the roads of Gangnam, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Hundreds of thousands of commuters on Tuesday trudged through Seoul’s battered roads and public transit pummeled by record-breaking downpour.

According to the Seoul metropolitan office, some of the roads along the Han River that cut across the middle of the capital had to be closed for several hours this morning for safety.

“Water still covers roads in many places, and they are just not passable,” a Seoul official told The Korea Herald on Tuesday morning.

Most of the roads have opened again since but heavy rains are expected to continue for two more days, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration on Tuesday.

The downpour that arrived for the Monday evening commute left many drivers stuck on flooded roadways. The cars that had to be abandoned due to flooding stayed where they were until the following morning on Tuesday, obstructing traffic.

In Gangnam and nearby districts of Seoul that suffered heavier damage, subway operations were stalled after rain poured into stations. One line passing through southern Seoul had to shut down altogether. Parts of the ceiling collapsed inside Isu Station.

Public offices in Seoul delayed their start by two hours until 11 a.m. to dodge the impacts of the rain on traffic. But most had to come into work as usual on Tuesday.

One Seoul resident, who commutes from Seodaemun to Seocho, roughly 16 kilometers apart, said he left at around 6 a.m. so that he wouldn’t be late for work. “Usually I leave around 7:30 a.m. but that would have been risky today with such bad traffic. I took a cab too because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to drive back home,” he said.

Another who lives just five subway stations away from his office in Gwanghwamun said he felt “lucky” his commute is short.

“My colleagues who live outside Seoul still had to come into work at 9 a.m. I don’t know how they did it,” he said.

In Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, dozens of highway closures forced commuters to take detours. According to last year’s official statistics, there are about 1,256,000 people commuting from Gyeonggi to Seoul.

President Yoon Suk-yeol said during a government meeting at the national emergency response headquarters on Tuesday that full restoration of roads and the subway system damaged by the rain was “expected to take some time.”

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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