SEOUL — At 4:40 p.m. on Monday, the 13-year-old woman texted her ​72-year-old ​grandmother ​who was once ​within the health center, wishing her neatly and pronouncing that she was once praying for her fast restoration.

“How candy of you, my little pet!” the grandmother texted again.

That was once the ultimate time she ​talked together with her granddaughter.

4 hours later, floods precipitated by means of one in all ​South Korea’s heaviest rainfalls gushed down the stairs into the three-room, semi-underground house in southern Seoul the place {the teenager} had lived together with her mom, 47, and her aunt, 48.

The circle of relatives had moved into the home seven years in the past. They knew the low-lying district was once liable to flooding, but it surely was once affordable and just about a central authority welfare middle the place the aunt, who had Down syndrome, may get lend a hand.

The heavy rainfalls that struck the Seoul metropolitan space from Monday till early Wednesday left six other folks lacking and a minimum of 9 lifeless, together with the circle of relatives of 3, highlighting the catch 22 situation of South Korea’s city deficient in addition to the rustic’s housing disaster and rising inequality.

The water rolled down with such power that the circle of relatives may no longer push their handiest door open, consistent with neighbors and emergency officers. The lady’s mom banged at the door and known as her ​neighbors for lend a hand. The neighbors known as ​the federal government’s 119 emergency reaction hotline ​at the circle of relatives’s behalf, ​however such a lot of flood sufferers had been dialing in that their calls didn’t undergo. ​

Two group males attempted to rescue the circle of relatives via the home’s street-level window, however they may no longer move in the course of the anti-theft, metal grating blockading the window. “The water stuffed the home so briefly we couldn’t do the rest about it,” Jeon Ye-sung, 52, a neighbor, ​informed newshounds.

Mr. Jeon ​rushed house on Monday night after his daughter ​informed him at the telephone that the water was once gushing in the course of the home windows into their ​personal ​semi-underground house. He broke the home windows to rescue his 3 daughters. However​ he and every other neighbor may no longer succeed in his neighbors.

By the point rescue officers pumped the water out early Tuesday, they discovered the circle of relatives of 3 lifeless.

South Korea’s city deficient steadily are living in banjiha, or semi-underground houses.​ The flood danger of those underground houses was once dramatically depicted within the South Korean film “Parasite,” which was the primary foreign-language film to win the Academy Award for Absolute best Movie ​in 2020.

Some of the 9 lifeless was once a lady in her 50s who additionally lived in a semi-underground house in Seoul. She fled the floodwater however returned to her house to rescue her cat and didn’t make it out alive.

In Seoul, a town the place sky-high housing costs are one of the most greatest political problems, dwelling excessive and dry in tall condominium constructions constructed by means of the rustic’s conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai is a standing image​.

However the deficient steadily are living in affordable, damp and musty banjiha. Loads of 1000’s are living in such houses within the congested metropolitan space, the place they try to search out jobs, get monetary savings and train their youngsters to triumph over rising inequality.

Through the years, Seoul has introduced to lend a hand the ones dwelling in such basement flats, offering them with pumps and different apparatus to struggle floods. It has additionally renovated sewer methods in low-lying districts to lend a hand drain rainwater extra briefly. The federal government has advised the ones dwelling in semi-underground basements to transport to state-owned flats with affordable rents.

Nonetheless, 1000’s of households are living in banjiha, fearing floods each and every monsoon season. They construct small dikes with sandbags round their houses. When the floodwater recedes, they put their clothes and furnishings in alleyways to dry. In a survey in 2020, greater than part of the five hundred semi-underground families in two districts in Siheung, simply southwest of Seoul, reported their houses submerged in rainwater.

“After I returned house from paintings, I discovered my banjiha beneath water,” a semi-underground dweller wrote at the South Korean internet portal Naver on Tuesday. “It felt as though heaven had crashed down on me.”

On Tuesday, when President Yoon Suk-yeol visited the neighbor​hood the place the circle of relatives of 3 died, their house was once nonetheless full of waist-high​ floodwater. Pillows, furnishings and plastic luggage floated within. Mr. Yoon needed to squat in the street out of doors to appear down into the house in the course of the street-level window.

The group was once strewn with luggage of rubbish, rain-damaged furnishings and electronics that households dragged out in their basement houses. “There’s infrequently the rest we will be able to salvage,” stated Park Kyong-ja, 77, who has lived in the community for 26 years.

​Choi Tae-young, the pinnacle of the Seoul Metropolitan Fireplace and Crisis Headquarters, blamed the floodwater for blockading the door of the circle of relatives’s house. However neighbors accused the federal government of failing to alert citizens to the approaching floods. Town didn’t warn of the chance of a close-by flow overflowing till 9:21 p.m. Monday, consistent with native media and neighbors.

From within their house, the circle of relatives of 3 known as neighbors between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., interesting for lend a hand as a result of they may no longer get out. {The teenager}’s mom, who was once known by means of the police and native media handiest by means of her ultimate title, Hong, often known as her mom within the health center at 8:37 p.m., pronouncing that she may no longer open the door on account of the floodwater, consistent with the day by day newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

“After I were given out and rushed to their house, it was once already full of water and I may no longer see the interior,” Kim In-sook, a neighbor, informed newshounds. Police and firefighters may pump out the water handiest hours later.

Hong Seok-cheol, 46, who lives in a semi-underground house subsequent door, left at 7:45 p.m. on Monday to devour out along with his spouse. When the couple returned house 40 mins later, they had been surprised to search out the alleyway flooding. Their house was once full of water.

“The rain got here so speedy and livid and the force on drainage pipes underground was once so robust that they burst open, worsening the flood,” Mr. Hong stated. “There was once no means my spouse and I will have made out if we were trapped within.”

One of the vital home goods belonging to the circle of relatives of 3 sat out of doors the four-story development on Wednesday, together with a white teddy undergo. Within the underground storage, 4 automobiles had been caked with dust.

“The torrential rainfall was once the worst in 115 years,” Mr. Yoon, the president, stated all over a gathering with emergency reaction officers on Wednesday. “The deficient and the vulnerable are extra at risk of herbal screw ups. Our nation will turn into protected once they really feel protected​.”

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