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Saturday, August 7, 1999 Published at 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Korea escapes typhoon

Hundreds of soldiers have been ordered to assist the clean up

As much of South-East Asia braces itself for more heavy rain, forecasters in South Korea have lifted a weekend typhoon warning.

The BBC's Alix Kroeger reports: "More than 1.7 million people have been affected by the abnormal rains"
The decision follows the downgrading of Typhoon Paul, which had skirted south of the Korean peninsula, to a tropical depression.

"Paul ended its life as a typhoon after it degenerated into a tropical depression some 150km (95 miles) south of Seoguipo [on the southern island of Cheju]," the meteorological office said.

It now seems that it may miss the peninsula entirely causing many Koreans to breathe a sigh of relief. Cheju however is still expected to receive heavy rains over the weekend and the main port on the island remains closed.

It is thought Paul could now hit China, which has also suffered from severe flooding.

Explosives threat

[ image: Korean soldiers search for landmines washed away by floodwaters]
Korean soldiers search for landmines washed away by floodwaters
Earlier this week, another storm, Typhoon Olga, hit the Korean Peninsula, leaving at least 60 people dead or missing.

As Koreans begin to clear up after the floods, they are being warned of the danger posed by landmines and other explosives dislodged by floodwaters from the heavily-fortified border zone between North and South Korea.

The South and its ally, the US, are thought to have placed about one million landmines and anti-tank explosives along the border.

The BBC's Andrew Wood in Seoul: Landmines designed to defend South Koreans may now harm them
Marines say they are looking for 150 mines which may have been dislodged. Reports say just four have been found so far.

Artillery shells and more than 7,000 other pieces of ammunition have been swept away defence ministry officials say.

Hopes fade

[ image: Rescuers in Manila say they doubt they will find any more survivors]
Rescuers in Manila say they doubt they will find any more survivors
In the Philippines, relief agencies say floods have killed more than 100 people.

Rescue teams digging through a housing estate that collapsed on Tuesday just outside the capital, Manila, say they have all but given up hope of finding any more survivors.

On Saturday five more bodies were recovered but no other survivors, apart from a dog, have been pulled from the wreckage.

More than half of the 500 houses in the Cherry Hills housing estate were destroyed in the landslide.

As rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble, survivors have been telling of their close escape from danger.

Survivor's story

[ image: Waters are reaching dangerous levels in Cambodia]
Waters are reaching dangerous levels in Cambodia
One woman resident, Jean Horta, said that just before the landslide she felt the ground move and saw cracks begin to appear in nearby houses.

She said the movements had jammed the doors of some homes forcing residents to cut through metal window grills to escape.

"When I got out of the house I grabbed my child and had not even taken five steps before my house collapsed behind me," Mr Horta said. "The ground under me heaved and lifted us up ... It was like a dream."

Meanwhile, in Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered emergency stockpiles of rice and medicine to be prepared in case the already swollen Mekong river bursts its banks.

Officials say four children have were killed in flash flood on Friday and many villagers have been forced onto the roofs of their homes to escape the rising waters.

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Internet Links

South Korea: Office of the president

South Korea: Ministry of National Defense

International Committee of the Red Cross

Philippines: Department of Environment

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