The Korean Peninsula is being deluged by exceptional rainfall, even by the standards of the region.
Over recent days, the rain has been concentrated in a wide zone, straddling the border between North and South Korea and encompassing the respective capitals of Pyongyang and Seoul.
In the last seven days, Pyongyang has recorded 491mm of rain. This compares with an average for the whole of July of 237mm.
As of Saturday, the North Korean Times was reporting that two people had been killed in floods and approximately 760 had been left homeless. The article confirmed that the worst-hit area was in the three provinces which border South Korea, including Kangwon province which partly belongs to the South.
The South Korean Korea Herald reports that a month’s worth of rain fell in northern parts of Gyeonggi province over the weekend. Approximately 100mm of the 227mm total fell in a one hour period.
A man was reportedly swept away by a fast-flowing stream near Pocheon and a woman met a similar fate in Gapyeong.
In Namyanggu, northeast of Seoul, scores of houses were inundated and many roads were flooded.
The Peninsula is no stranger to flooding and the subsequent disruption at this time of year.
The Meiyu-Baiu weather system which is responsible for the region’s rainy season, stretches from China in the west, through the Peninsula and across Japan.
It is a slow-moving weather front which results from the clash of warm moist air from the Pacific and cooler, drier air originating near the Tibetan Plateau.
In Pyongyang, the period July-August is when the Meiyu-Baiu is most active. These two months yield 30 percent more rain than in the remaining 10 months combined.
Severe loss of life is a continual threat across the region, especially as increasing urban development hampers natural drainage.
The worst loss of life in recent years occurred in 2007, when 600 people died, mainly in southern parts of North Korea. The country was forced to accept offers of international aid. The leader, Kim Jong-Ill, thanked the leaders of 11 donor countries for their help, but not its southern neighbour, even though they had sent $40 million in aid.
The current heavy rain shows no sign of easing and computer predictions show the potential for at least another 100mm in the coming week across the region.
Source: Al Jazeera