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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Typhoon pounds South Korea
A cruise ship lies on its side in Pusan
The fierce winds toppled a cruise ship
South Korea is counting the cost of a devastating typhoon that swept over the south of the country, leaving at least 58 people dead and 27 missing.

Typhoon Maemi, with winds of up to 216 km/h (135 mph), was the strongest typhoon to hit South Korea since records began nearly 100 years ago, officials said.

The storm brought trees and cables crashing down, ripped ships from their moorings and caused widespread flooding.

Some 25,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 1.4 million households were left without power.

"Water poured into my house in a minute, I couldn't get anything out except myself," Choi Joong-kwon, a resident of Taegu city told YTN television.

Emergency meeting

Maemi - Korean for cicada - was heading north over the cooler waters of the Sea of Japan on Saturday night local time and had weakened considerably, meteorologists said.

But heavy downpours are still likely.

"We're still getting damage reports and expect more casualties," an official at the National Disaster Prevention Headquarters told Reuters.

The government held an emergency meeting to plan the clean-up operation as reports came in of damage across a wide area.

A landslide in central Chungchong province derailed a Seoul-bound train, injuring 28 passengers, South Korean television said.

A giant floating oil rig under construction in the south-eastern port of Ulsan was reportedly swept away by high waves.

Workers stand by collapsed container cranes after Typhoon Maemi at Busan Port, south of Seoul

And in the southern port city of Busan, high winds topped 11 giant cranes and flipped over a floating cruise ship hotel.

Unconfirmed reports said some 10 people were trapped in a flooded basement karaoke bar in the south-eastern city of Masan with rescuers trying to pumping away water to reach them.

The storms earlier wreaked havoc on the islands of Okinawa in southern Japan, before making landfall in South Korea.


Do you live in the areas affected by the typhoon? We want to hear your experiences. If you have any good photos send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

Winds were chaotic: my apartment building was noticeably swaying with each burst. Windows were literally sucked out of my girlfriend's apartment, frames and all. I was simply hoping the glass of windows wouldn't implode upon me.
Devon Rowcliffe, Busan, South Korea

Last night I was stuck in the middle of Typhoon Maemi in the ancient southern city of Gyeong-ju. The typhoon hit the city early in the evening. Rain and high winds were lashing down at an incredible rate, at one point we starting fearing for our lives when the conservatory we were sitting in started swaying violently from side-to-side. Amazingly the only damage was a piece of plastic glass. Travelling around the area today in beautiful sunshine, you could see the damage
David, South Korea

I was caught amongst it but I was on the Eastern coast. The train tracks were washed away up-line from us in the small town of Dogye just before midnight. There were no trains or buses out on Saturday morning since the valley from Dogye to Taebaek had had several hundred millimetres of rain and had brought massive slips across the roads.
Don Royds, South Korea

Like most other families on the Chuseok holiday, (the Harvest Festival, when families traditionally get together), we stayed in last night. Actually, we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary until the power went off around 10:15 pm. It came back on again sometime in the night while we were asleep. The first evidence we saw of the damage was today when we headed down to the beach (at Haeundae, Busan) a couple of kilometres away and saw all the debris on the roads and the beachfront. Several buildings were missing facades and many signs had been knocked over, scattering glass across the roads. I think the death toll might have been much higher if it had been a regular Friday night rather than a holiday.
Peter Lucraft, South Korea

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WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"Whole communities were left without electricity"



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Typhoon Maemi
13 Sep 03  |  Photo Gallery
Typhoon hits south China
02 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Typhoon batters southern Asia
24 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Nature's lethal weapons
18 Sep 00  |  Science/Nature


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