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9 rain-damaged areas to be declared special disaster zones

Nine areas hit the hardest by last week's heavy downpours are set to be declared special disaster zones, the home affairs minister said Wednesday, making them eligible for state relief funds.

"Twenty out of all the rain-damaged areas have been selected to receive aid toward reconstruction, and of these, nine areas met many of the criteria for special disaster zones," said Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu, without naming the areas. He added that several other regions may be included on the final list.

A local government designated as a special disaster area is entitled to financial aid from the central government to cover rehabilitation costs. Affected residents are given tax cuts, and are able to delay payment on their national taxes as well as public insurance and national pension bills.

The minister, whose remarks came during a meeting with the ruling Grand National Party at the National Assembly, also pledged to provide fundamental measures for disaster prevention in light of recent climatic changes. These steps could include expanding and reforming the National Institute for Disaster Prevention to build a permanent disaster management system, he said.

Last week's record-breaking rainfall in the central part of the country left more than 60 people dead from landslides and flooding, and forced thousands of others to flee their homes.

President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday ordered his government to organize a task force with civilian experts to revise the country's overall disaster prevention system. (Yonhap News)


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