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Rain pounds vacationers in Gangwon

Aug 07,2018
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Stores near Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung, Gangwon, are flooded Monday morning following torrential rainfall in some parts of Gangwon. [YONHAP]
Though most of the country began the week with little relief from the unrelenting heat wave, some parts of Gangwon, a popular summer vacation destination, were hit with torrential downpours early on Monday.

It rained 93 millimeters (3.7 inches) from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Monday in Gangneung, Gangwon, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

This was the second-highest hourly rainfall recorded in the city behind the 100.5 millimeters per hour that fell on Aug. 31, 2002, when Typhoon Rusa hit.

More than 20 roads and public facilities and about 40 houses in Gangneung were flooded Monday morning, including Gangneung Station, which was frequented by visitors during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last winter. Officials spent Monday morning pumping water out of the station.

As of 10 a.m. Monday, it had rained 265.6 millimeters in Sokcho, 251.5 millimeters in Gangmun-dong in Gangneung, 208 millimeters in Ganghyeon-myeon in Yangyang County and 179.5 millimeters in Goseong County.

No injuries were reported due to the rain and flooding as of Monday afternoon.

Most of the rainfall in Gangwon thinned out by the afternoon, though the KMA said it expected about 50 millimeters of rain to fall in the coastal areas of the province on Monday night.

The recent heat wave continued to affect other parts of the country. The KMA on Monday issued heat wave warnings for Seoul, Sejong, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon, Incheon, all of the Gyeongsang, Chungcheong and Jeolla regions and some other areas in Gangwon, including Hoengseong County, Chuncheon, Hwacheon County, Cheorwon County, Wonju and Yeongwol County.

Heat wave advisories were issued in Ulsan, Busan and Jeju on Monday. The KMA typically issues a heat wave advisory when highs are expected to exceed 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) for two or more days. A heat wave warning is issued when the high is expected to be over 35 degrees Celsius for more than two days.

The number of people getting sick from heat hit a record high this summer. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCD) said that 3,057 people got sick from the heat from May 20 up until Saturday and 38 died from heat-related illnesses.

The KCDC has kept track of heat-related illnesses and deaths since 2011, and said the number of deaths this year is the highest yet recorded. The second highest was in 2016, when 17 people died from heat-related illnesses.

Last year, 1,563 people got sick from the heat and 11 died, according to the KCDC.

Temperatures hit record numbers this summer. The high in Seoul on Aug. 1 was 39.6 degrees Celsius, the highest since records started being kept in 1907, according to the KMA.

The temperature in Hongcheon, Gangwon, hit 41 degrees Celsius on the same day, breaking the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Korea, which was previously 40 degrees Celsius in Daegu in 1942.

The KCDC warned to people to “stay away from direct sunlight outdoors, including at parks and beaches, and refrain from outdoor activities including construction work during heat waves,” in a statement last week.

Of people who got sick from the heat this summer, 30 percent fell ill while working at an outdoors construction site; 21 percent while outdoors near their home; 13 percent while farming and 10 percent while at a park.

“Keep hydrated and stay away from prolonged outdoor activities during the summer vacation season,” the KCDC said in its statement.

BY SHIN JIN-HO, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]