Soldiers to clear snow

2010-01-05 10:56

Seoul - South Korea mobilised tens of thousands of civil servants and soldiers on Tuesday to clear record snowfalls as freezing temperatures left roads and highways icy in many areas.

Weathermen said snow stopped falling late on Monday in Seoul and nearby areas but the southwest coast received up to 21cm of snow between late on Monday and early on Tuesday.

Almost 28cm of snow fell in Seoul on Monday, the heaviest reported in the country since records began in 1937, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

A man in his 50s fell to his death from the roof of a badminton court in Seoul while trying to clear snow on Monday, Yonhap news agency said.

In the central city of Cheongju, some 3 000 chickens perished as their coops collapsed under the weight of snow, it said.

In Seoul alone, about 48 000 people including civil servants and volunteers were mobilised to remove snow.

The defence ministry said 19 000 solders were deployed for snow clearing nationwide, as military helicopters carried blankets and food to isolated villages.

Cars crawled along icy roads as temperatures plunged to minus 10.4 degrees Celsius in Seoul and minus 20.4 in Cheolwon, 58km northwest of the capital.

A day after heavy snowfalls grounded many flights, service on international routes returned to normal on Tuesday, but domestic air traffic and railway transportation remained crippled in some areas.

Thousands of fishing boats had to take shelter at ports along the southwest coast.