South Korea's storm damage hits record high
SEOUL, Sept 4 (AFP) - Property losses caused by Typhoon Rusa that left more than 200 dead have surged to a record 1.75 billion dollars but South Korean officials on Thursday warned final figures would be far higher.
Rusa, which plowed across South Korea over the weekend, caused 2.13 trillion won (1.75 billion dollars) in property damage, a record high for a storm, the government's anti-disaster agency said.
"The amount of damage is an all time high. Yet the final figures will be far higher as we are still getting a flurry of new reports on losses," agency official Im Kyo-Yong told AFP.
The National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters said 205 people were feared dead or missing, while Yonhap News Agency said 240 were dead or missing.
Rusa flooded 17,046 houses and 114,592 hectares (286,480 acres) of farmland. It also washed away roads and bridges in 1,137 places.
Reports of damage to industrial facilities around the country caused by Typhoon Rusa were increasing by the hour while millions of people were still suffering from the storm's aftermath.
The government said 1.25 million homes across the country remained without power on Wednesday, four days after the storm barrelled through south and east coastal areas leaving a trail of destruction.
The recovery was just beginning in Gangneung, the hardest hit city in the eastern province of Gangwon, where power was not expected to be restored until Monday.
Small and medium sized businesses across the south and east suffered significantly from the typhoon, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.
Some 265 firms in North Gyeongsang, Jeju, Gangwon and North Jeolla provinces were damaged with losses in raw material, plant equipment and buildings. The damage is estimated to amount to around 35.6 billion won.
Three cement plants in Donghae and Samchok, Gangwon Province, including Tongyang Cement and Ssangyong Cement, had to suspend operations due to the floods.
Gas pipelines were ruptured in at least two provinces and a number of power stations have also been hit, including two thermal power plants at Yondong.
The Ulchin nuclear power plant had its drinking water pipelines destroyed with access roads washed out, according to officials.
Damage from Typhoon Rusa far surpassed property destruction of 1.07 trillion won attributed to Typhoon Olga in 1999.
Damage to agriculture and fisheries was substantial and food prices were already rising in South Korea.
The government has said it would release stockpiles of food, mainly rice, at lower than market prices.
Agriculture and forestry ministry officials said 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres) of farmland were ruined.
President Kim Dae-Jung said Tuesday he will declare four areas disaster zones, allowing them to receive accelerated government aid.
Meanwhile soldiers and health officials have stepped up anti-epidemic operations as an outbreak of conjunctivitis, a highly contagious viral eye disease, spread nationwide.
Some 170,000 children including 10,000 in Seoul have been infected with the disease, forcing the closure of some 70 schools nationwide.
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/04/2002 03:33:45
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