2nd typhoon threatens Korean Peninsula

2012-08-29 16:33
North Korea floods (AP, File)

North Korea floods (AP, File)

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Seoul — The Korean Peninsula cleaned up on Wednesday after one powerful typhoon and girded itself for another that could be particularly damaging to North Korea, which is still recovering from earlier floods.

The first storm, Typhoon Bolaven, left at least 12 people dead in South Korea, including eight fishermen killed in wrecks off the southern coast.

Damage in North Korea, which was hit late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, wasn't completely clear, though state media reported that the storm knocked out power, ruined farm land and cut off power to some people.

Typhoon Tembin, meanwhile, was expected to reach South Korea on Thursday, with its outer bands hitting North Korea later in the day.

Tembin is expected to weaken as it reaches North Korea. Heavy rain, however, often means catastrophe in the North because of poor drainage, deforestation and decrepit infrastructure.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said some areas of Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces would receive up to 70mm of rain on Thursday and Friday.

Youth celebrations

Weather officials had warned that Bolaven would be the strongest typhoon to hit the region in several years, but its gusts in other parts of Asia weren't as powerful as predicted.

KCNA reported that Bolaven tore off a power station's roof, cut power lines in Kaesong city and damaged many hectares of farmland, hurting the chances of a successful harvest.

Strong winds and rain lashed Pyongyang, the North's capital, on Tuesday, but there was little apparent damage there. Cars splashed through shallow standing water on one street, spraying people on a crowded sidewalk.

Thousands of young people had been brought to Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the country's main youth political organisation.

The young delegates toured various places in Pyongyang on Tuesday, state media said, and leader Kim Jong Un visited a military unit on the country's eastern border with the South, despite torrential rain.

In South Korea, Bolaven temporarily left hundreds of thousands without power, cancelled flights, left nearly 100 families homeless and damaged farm land.

Search for fishermen

The storm also churned up rough seas that smashed two Chinese fishing ships into rocks off southern Jeju Island, killing eight and leaving seven missing.

Coast guard ships were still searching for the missing fishermen after an eighth dead body washed ashore on Wednesday afternoon, coast guard spokesperson Ko Chang-keon said.

The coast guard rescued 12 fishermen from the ships on Tuesday, and six others swam or were washed ashore.

The storm killed at least four other people across South Korea. A large container box crushed an apartment janitor to death, a woman fell to her death from a rooftop and another person died after bricks hit a house, according to disaster and fire officials.

An 80-year-old man died after a small makeshift building fell on him, officials said. A man who was first reported to have died after being hit by a falling tree actually died of a heart attack while cleaning debris, officials later said.

The storms come as North Korea tries to help people with food, shelter, healthcare and clean water after heavy flooding in July, according to a recent United Nations situation report.

More than 170 died nationwide, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in the floods, according to official North Korean accounts.

Many flood victims still live in tents with limited access to water and other basic facilities, the UN report said, and there is worry about increased malnutrition in coming weeks.

Read more on:    south korea  |  north korea  |  floods  |  weather

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