- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2002

SEOUL (AP) Soldiers and anti-disaster officials began repair work yesterday after the most powerful typhoon to hit South Korea in 40 years left at least 47 persons dead and 33 missing in flash floods and landslides.
The government's National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters was trying to confirm reports that dozens more people were swept away by floodwaters or buried in landslides caused by Typhoon Rusa.
"Reports of casualties are coming in from everywhere. Considering past typhoon damages, we believe the death toll would hover over 100," said an official at anti-disaster headquarters.
Rusa, the Malaysian word for deer, was the most powerful typhoon to hit the Korean peninsula since Sarah in 1959, which left more than 840 persons dead or missing. In 1987, Typhoon Thelma left more than 350 dead or missing.
Local media reported up to 132 persons dead or missing, and said the death toll was expected to rise further. KBS-TV said 83 persons were killed and 49 others were missing.
Rusa dumped as much as 36 inches of rain over the weekend in eastern and southern South Korea. It left the peninsula yesterday afternoon, moving across the east coast without causing further damage.
Wind gusts of up to 127 mph ripped up trees and knocked down 7,800 electricity poles, causing a blackout for more than 1 million households. Some 240,000 homes still had no power yesterday, and 140,000 homes remained without telephone service.
Parts of a field hockey stadium and other facilities built for the Sept. 29 to Oct. 14 Asian Games were wrecked. The games, Asia's Olympics, are to be held in Pusan, South Korea's second-largest city on the southern coast.
More than 17,000 houses and buildings in low-lying areas were submerged, forcing 27,474 residents to take shelter at public buildings and schools. Floods inundated 12,620 acres of farmland.
President Kim Dae-jung convened an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday and ordered the government and military to mobilize all available personnel and equipment for rescue and repair operations.
With rains subsiding, disaster-recovery officials began cleaning roads and railways that were cut off by floods and landslides. Parts of three rail lines and three highways remained closed last night.
Tens of thousand of flood victims, who had been forced to evacuate to public buildings and schools, began cleaning their mud-covered homes. Authorities began working to restore electricity and telephone services.
Most airports reopened, except for airports in Mokpo and Yosu on the west coast and Yangyang on the east coast. Airports in southern South Korea had been closed Saturday.
All 96 ferries running between coastal cities and islands continued to suspend service late yesterday because of high waves.


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