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Efforts Made to Recover from Typhoon Damages

Efforts Made to Recover from Typhoon Damages

The government plans to declare typhoon-hit areas in the southern part of the country as special disaster zones to ensure a quick recovery, officials said on Sunday (Sept 14).

About 1.4 trillion won (roughly $1.2 billion) will be earmarked for compensation and rescue operations, while heavy equipment is being mobilized to restore power and transportation networks, the Central Anti-Disaster Center said.

President Roh Moo-hyun, while visiting the hardest-hit areas in Busan and surrounding South Gyeongsang Province, instructed his Cabinet to make every possible effort to repair public utilities in the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces.

Meanwhile, disaster workers scrambled to search for bodies, reconnect roads and return power to blacked-out households as the death toll from Typhoon "Maemi" rose to 78.

Rescue workers said they recovered eight more bodies from the basement of a business complex in Masan, South Gyeongsang Province, which was flooded Saturday morning.

About 40 people remain missing and the death toll is feared to further rise, officials said.

Most victims were buried by landslides or washed away in flash floods, they said.

Thirty-three people were confirmed dead and 17 missing in South Gyeongsang Province, where Maemi wrecked havoc before turning to northern Japan early Saturday morning.

The typhoon caused widespread blackouts with the operations of five nuclear power plants on the south and east coasts halted, the disaster control center said.

The typhoon left about 1,400 people homeless, cut power to 1.44 million houses and destroyed 2,218 communication centers nationwide, the center said.

About 34 major industrial plants in Ulsan and Onsan on the southeast coast, including two major oil refineries, were forced to temporarily halt operations, government officials said.

Weather officials said they were keeping flood warnings in the Gyeongsang region with many banks and dikes around the Nakttong River still in danger of collapsing.

About 70 residents of Goryong evacuated their homes to safety before a river bank collapsed and engulfed a residential area Saturday night, officials said.

The typhoon inundated about 16,000 hectares of rice paddies and orchards in the southern provinces days before harvest. Many now expect the worst harvest in two decades.

Officials are concerned about a significant rise in the price of rice this year.

Weathermen said Maemi was the most powerful typhoon to hit the Korean peninsula in a century, recording a wind speed of 216 kilometers per hour _ powerful enough to overturn vehicles and ships.

Prime Minister Goh Kun held a Cabinet meeting Saturday to oversee rescue and rehabilitation work, while the affected municipalities and the army mobilized equipment and personnel for the operations.

Chyung Dai-chul, chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, said he will consult with the government to draft a supplementary budget to assist rehabilitation work in flood-hit areas.

One of the hardest hit cities was Busan, the nation's largest port, in which twelve of its 52 container lifting cranes were knocked down.

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