Korean typhoon toll 'may top 100'

13 2003

Korean typhoon toll 'may top 100'

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean authorities say at least 42 people are dead while another 24 are missing after a powerful typhoon battered the country.

But South Korean media is reporting the final death toll could top 100.

Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as record winds and driving rain ripped across southern and eastern parts of the peninsula early Saturday.

Local television YTN reported rescue workers were trying to reach 10 people trapped in the basement of a collapsed shopping center in the southern city of Masan.

Packing winds of up to 216 kph (134 mph) -- a record for South Korea -- Typhoon Maemi cut power to 1.4 million homes, sank 18 ships, and paralyzed road, rail and air transport.

The typhoon struck as South Koreans celebrated their three-day Thanksgiving festival called Chusok.

Authorities say the typhoon has already caused seven billion won ($6 million) worth of damage, with that figure expected to rise.

Prime Minister Goh Kun has chaired an emergency cabinet meeting to talk about whether to declare the area a disaster zone and provide financial support.

The worst affected area was South Kyeongsang province where at least 15 people drowned and roads were swept away.

In central Chungchong province, a landslide caused a Seoul-bound Saemaeul Express train to derail, injuring 28 people, local television said.

Maemi headed back out to the Sea of Japan on Saturday, where it weakened to a tropical storm.

The country's capital city Seoul, in the northwest of the country, was unaffected by the storm.

South Korea is often hit by typhoons at this time of year. Last September, Typhoon Rusa killed more than 100 people.

Source by CNN

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