The government announced that it will provide 100 billion won in emergency aid for rescue operations in the areas hit by Typhoon Maemi, and that it is reviewing the possibility of releasing 1.4 trillion won ($1.2 billion) from the 2003 Reserve Funds for recovery and rescue activities.
In the event of a budget shortfall, an additional fund could be drawn by way of supplemental budget. To ease the hardship of the thousands of affected residents and ensure a quick recovery, the government is likely to declare the hard-hit areas as special disaster zones.
After a tour of the typhoon-hit areas in Masan on September 14, President Roh Moo-hyun stated that the government would declare the area a special disaster zone as soon as the statistics are compiled and satisfy legal requirements for declaration. The president added that he would consult with the governor of South Gyeongsang Province and the mayor of Masan to discuss the best way to aid the area, and that the decision on the declaration would come at the Cabinet meeting on September 16.
To qualify for a special disaster zone under the law, a region (provincial levels) must have sustained over 500 billion won in damages with 15,000 people left homeless. For a district (county levels), the amount of damage has to exceed 100 billion won and the number of homeless individuals more than 5,000; for wards (local levels), 20 billion won and 1,000 individuals left homeless. To declare a national special disaster zone, the law requires a total amount of damages to exceed 1.5 trillion won and more than 30,000 individuals left homeless.
Under the law, the residents in a special disaster zone are entitled to special tax breaks as well as 1.5 times larger government assistant funds than the residents of a region not under disaster status. Additionally, priority considerations are given to the special disaster zones with special equipment and personnel for rescue operations.
The Central Disaster Relief Headquarters reported 87 individuals dead, 28 missing and 8,938 (3,323 households) homeless, as of 7 a.m., September 15. It also announced that 4,028 houses, 17,243 hectares of farmland, 2,097 buildings, 753 roads and bridges, and 1,961 streams, were either flooded or destroyed.
The center also disclosed that power outage initially affected up to 1.47 million households, but it was restored to 95 percent within 24 hours. A total of five nuclear power plants automatically shut down their operations when high voltage transmission wires became unstable under high winds. The power plants themselves were not affected, and they plan to resume power generation within this week.
In the coming days and weeks, the rescue operations will focus on clean up and road services, aiding homeless individuals, reinforcing sanitary activities, and minimizing the losses of agricultural products.
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