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SEOUL (AP) — The Korean Peninsula cleaned up 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 Tuesday and early Wednesday, wasn’t completely clear, though state media reported that the storm knocked out power, submerged roads and houses, and ruined farm land.
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 2.8 inches of rain on Thursday and Friday.
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 more than 21,000 acres of maize fields, hurting the chances of a successful harvest.
The typhoon tore roofs off several public buildings in South Hwanghae province and damaged TV relay facilities in North Hwanghae province, KCNA said.
Many houses and roads were submerged or destroyed and railroads were covered by landslides in South Phyongan, Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces, KCNA said.
Strong winds and rain lashed Pyongyang, the North’s capital, Tuesday, but there was little apparent damage there.
Thousands of young people had been brought to Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the country’s main youth political organization. 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, canceled flights, left nearly 100 families homeless and damaged farm land. 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 Wednesday afternoon, coast guard spokesman 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, officials said.
The storms come as North Korea tries to help people with food, shelter, health care 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 U.N. report said, and there is worry about increased malnutrition in coming weeks.
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