Published: Tuesday 15 September 1998

Floods sweeping across the Seoul metropolitan area have left at least 119 people dead and 53 others missing in South Korea's worst natural disaster in years. With flood waters receding, tens of thousands of people returned to sodden, mud-caked homes, but many found only shattered remains of what was once their home. Low-lying suburbs were littered with broken furniture, overturned cars, dead animals and other debris. Health authorities warned against outbreak of many water-borne diseases, like cholera, malaria and typhoid.

In two weeks, landslides and floods have claimed a total of 183 lives in South Korea. In the southern provinces, flash floods have killed many and left hundreds stranded. Floods swept away about 60 campers and vacationers in the southern resort area around Mount Chiri hit by up to 220 milimetres of rain overnight. Rain-swollen rivers overflowed, breaking dykes, sweeping away roads, homes, vehicles and telephone poles, and triggered landslides, including one that killed 10 soldiers. Thousands of army personnel were put on alert in the southern provinces as weather office warned of more rains. Property damage was estimated at us $25.5 million.

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