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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Koreas fall victim to Asian floods

South Korean military have been ordered to help relief efforts

North and South Korea have issued nationwide alerts as they prepare to take the full brunt of Typhoon Olga.

Ben Brown reports: "Officials admit the severity has taken them by surprise"
The peninsula has already been battered by storm-force winds and torrential downpours - more than 30 people have been killed so far in the north of South Korea with another 22 missing.

Forecasters are warning neighbouring countries to prepare for bad weather too - another storm system is building behind Olga in the Pacific and could hit Japan at the weekend.

[ image:  ]
Olga is expected to make landfall near the North Korean port of Haegu on Tuesday evening.

Having suffered from a series of droughts and floods over the past four years, North Korea is now reporting heavy storm damage to crops, buildings and communications.

In the South, ports have been closed with road, air and rail communications severely disrupted. President Kim Dae-jung has ordered the military to assist with relief efforts and to shore-up embankments and dykes.

Tens of thousands homeless

Elsewhere in East Asia, heavy seasonal rains have caused havoc, killing at least another 40 and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

[ image: Hundreds of Manila's main roads have been submerged]
Hundreds of Manila's main roads have been submerged
In the Philippines, hit by Olga earlier this week, 18 people are reported to have been killed by flash floods in the area around the capital, Manila.

Around 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes by the Philippine army using amphibious vehicles and rubber dinghies. Thousands of others have been forced onto the roofs of their homes to await rescue.

Schools, offices and government ministries in the capital were also closed and trading on the national stock exchange and foreign currency markets has been suspended.

The BBC's John McLean in Manila: Much of this city is under water
Officials in the suburb of Quezon City said they feared flooding could be made much worse by overflow from a nearby reservoir which has already passed its safe limit.

"This is definitely one of the worst rainfalls we have had in years," Rolu Encarnacion, chief of the flood forecasting centre. "We expect more rains in the next two days."

Waist-high waters

In Thailand at least six people have been killed as the country experiences some of its heaviest flooding in three decades.

[ image: In Thailand locals are trying to continue with life as best as possible]
In Thailand locals are trying to continue with life as best as possible
In Chantaburi province, one of the worst-affected areas east of Bangkok, waist-high waters forced the evacuation of hundreds of inmates from the local prison.

Thousands have been evacuated and officials are said to be considering dynamiting a number of roads to release trapped flood waters caused by three days of non-stop rains.

Officials are also keeping a close eye on water levels in the Mekong which is continuing to rise.

"We have not put out an alert yet," one official is quoted as saying. "But, with the amount of rain and high level of water in the Mekong river, we are all prepared."

Emergency aid

[ image: Vietnamese fishing communities have been devastated]
Vietnamese fishing communities have been devastated
In Vietnam, waters are finally reported to be subsiding in Binh Thuan province after more than a week of flash floods.

Authorities there have appealed for emergency food for more than 20,000 homeless and reconstruction aids to patch up bridges and roads.

Fishing villages along the central coastal province have been devastated by the floods with more than 100 boats washed out to sea. Local reports say 17 people were killed in the province with another 12 listed as missing.

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South Korea: Ministry of National Defense

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