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9 dead, 2 buried, as rains batter South Korea

SEOUL—Nine people were killed and two others were missing feared buried after a landslide triggered by torrential rain smashed into a South Korean mountain region early on Wednesday, rescuers said.

The downpour also battered Seoul, the surrounding Gyeonggi province and other areas from Tuesday onwards, bringing landslides, traffic jams, power cuts, as well as flooding roads and homes.

A landslide just after midnight in the mountainous Chuncheon area 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Seoul flattened an inn and three homes there.

Six of those killed in the inn, near the Soyang River Dam, were college students from Inha University in the western city of Incheon who were in the area for volunteer work.

“I was sleeping on the second floor of the pension (inn) when I heard the thunderous sound of a landslide. The stairs collapsed and I was buried under mud,” one student rescued by firefighters told Yonhap news agency.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 20 others were injured at the scene, four of them seriously. More than 500 firefighters and police have been sent to speed up the rescue.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said 161 millimeters (around six and a half inches) of rain fell in Seoul between midnight and 9 am Wednesday.

Streets, subway stations, underpasses and residential districts were flooded throughout the capital. At Uijeongbu north of Seoul, Yonhap said three people were reported missing in flooded streams and rivers.

NEMA said floods or mudslides shut 36 major roads nationwide, including 23 in Seoul, and more than 700 homes were flooded in the capital. Dozens of others in the city could not leave home because of landslides or flooding.

News reports said more than 150 traffic lights were malfunctioning in Seoul, worsening the traffic gridlock.

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