South Korea must accept climate change, says President, as floods kill more than 40

More than 10,000 evacuated from homes as monsoon rains cause havoc

Emergency workers conduct a search after landslides and heavy rain in Yecheon-gun, South Korea's Gyeongsangbuk-do province. EPA
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South Korea's President has promised a "complete overhaul" of the country's approach to extreme weather and said it must accept the reality of climate change as the death toll from monsoon rains rises.

Rescue workers were searching for survivors on Monday as torrential rain lashed the country for the ninth day running, leaving thousands without power and hundreds of roads and bridges destroyed.

At least 41 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have been evacuated from their homes across the country in its worst monsoon season in years.

"This kind of extreme weather event will become commonplace – we must accept climate change is happening and deal with it," Yoon Suk Yeol said on Monday.

Nine hundred rescuers have been sent to search for people stuck in a tunnel in Cheongju province, where 15 vehicles, including a passenger bus, were trapped in floodwaters.

The government and the police have opened inquiries.

Up to 3 centimetres per hour of rain fell on some southern areas, Korea's Meteorological Office said on Monday.

Central and southern regions could still get as much as 20cm throughout Tuesday, it added.

It comes as much of Europe, North America and other parts of Asia swelter in record-breaking temperatures that show little sign of cooling.

The World Meteorological Organisation on Monday warned the heatwave across much of Europe is likely to continue into next month and would intensify in Greece and Turkey on Wednesday.

Records have already been set for specific weather stations in parts of the Northern Hemisphere and national highs across Europe may also be set, the UN agency said.

In China's north-western Xianjiang region, the oasis city of Turpan hit a record 52.2°C on Sunday, a few weeks after Beijing registered its hottest June day with temperatures reaching 41.1°C.

At least 22 people have been killed in floods and landslides in India, triggered by heavy monsoon rain.

Updated: July 17, 2023, 3:55 PM