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Environment

South Korea floods, landslides kill 14

SEOUL (Reuters) - Fourteen people were killed and more than 1,000 people forced from their homes as 42 consecutive days of rain, South Korea’s longest monsoon in seven years, triggered floods and landslides, authorities said on Tuesday.

Heavy rain, which has also battered China, Thailand, Myanmar and India in recent days, inundated farmland and flooded parts of major highways and bridges in the capital, Seoul.

The victims included three New Zealanders from the same family, who were found dead on Monday after a landslide hit vacation cottages in Gapyeong country, northeast of Seoul.

The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea identified the victims as the organization’s director, Anna Song, her young son, and her mother, Rose Kim.

Song had been involved in “all activities to promote the New Zealand and Korea relationship”, the Chamber said in a statement.

The New Zealand foreign ministry said it was aware of the deaths and was providing consular assistance. It did not elaborate.

Among the other deaths caused by the rain were three workers killed when a landslide struck the factory where they were working.

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President Moon Jae-in expressed concern about the impact of 42 days of rain, which weather officials said was the longest such stretch since 2013, on public sector emergency workers already battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged “all-out efforts to prevent further loss of life”, such as action to avert landslides and evacuate people, even in cases of little apparent danger.

Most of the flooded roads and bridges along the Han River in Seoul that had backed up traffic and damaged infrastructure were back in operation on Tuesday, the Yonhap news agency said.

In neighbouring North Korea, state media warned of possible flooding.

“All the sectors of the national economy... are taking steps to prevent damage from the downpour,” state news agency KCNA said, saying that some areas were predicted to receive as much as half a metre (20 inches) of rain.

Citing unidentified South Korean government officials, Yonhap said North Korea opened the floodgates of a border dam on Monday without advance notice to its neighbour.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, John Stonestreet and Emelia Matarise

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