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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
S Korea typhoon toll rises
A cruise ship lies on its side in Pusan
The fierce winds toppled a cruise ship
Thousands of troops in South Korea have been searching for missing people after one of the most powerful typhoons to hit the country in a century killed at least 85 people.

Thirty people are missing after Typhoon Maemi crashed through towns and villages, with winds of up to 216 km/h (135 mph), officials said.

They said the number of the dead was expected to rise with more information coming in from areas where communications were disrupted.

The troops have been re-opening roads blocked by landslides and delivering supplies to communities cut off by floods.

President Roh Moo-hyun toured the affected areas on Sunday as his government released $1.2bn to help the recovery effort.

Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in schools and public buildings.

Typhoon Maemi swept across the south of the country on Friday, causing landslides and extensive damage.

Major industrial plants and nuclear power stations closed temporarily, but South Korea's electricity supplies have now been largely restored.

In the second largest city and main port, Pusan, industrial cranes weighing about 1,000 tons were overturned and a floating cruise ship hotel was flipped over, while 18 fishing boats were sunk around the southernmost island of Jeju.

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

Storm downgraded

The country's capital, Seoul, was unaffected.

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

Maemi - Korean for cicada - was downgraded to a depression early on Sunday morning as it passed by the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

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.

"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.


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

I was in my lab at KJIST Kwangju, returning to my dormitory quite far from the centre of the typhoon, but I could feel the anger and the effect posed by this typhoon. This was the first time I felt so fierce a natural calamity during my stay in Korea. I pray for the well-being of all the affected people.
Farhan Ahmad, South Korea

Much of the damage here in Changwon appeared to be attributed to business signs being torn off buildings, smashing windows as they fell and leaving their tangled mess of aluminium, broken lightbulbs and electrical fittings over the streets below. I saw one of the city's best known hotels had lost a large part of its roof and panelling was ripped off some other buildings. Road signs and traffic lights, suspended by long arms reaching over roads, had also shown their vulnerability, as had scaffolding and partly-constructed buildings. Broken roof-tiles, twigs and branches were the commonest things being swept-up next day in my residential area, while some unlucky ones had their car or house windows broken by such air-borne debris.
Aled Powell, Changwon, Korea

I live in the southern city of Chang-won. At the time of the big blast I was in an Irish pub looking out the window when many advertising hoardings were being blown off buildings. A five-star hotel had its roof peeled off and deposited on the roof of the building that I was in, which is actually taller by four floors. The noise of the howling wind was similar to that of avalanches. For those of you who have been in an avalanche you know just how deafening they can be.
John Quirk, Chang-won.

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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