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2,500 people displaced after downpour, more rain expected over weekend


More than 2,500 people have been displaced from a week of heavy rain in much of the country, leading the government to designate seven hard-hit areas as special disaster zones.

President Moon Jae-in declared Chungju, Jaecheon and Umseong in North Chungcheong Province and Asan in South Chungcheong Province as well as Anseong in Gyeonggi Province and Cheorwon in Gangwon Province emergency disaster zones, allowing them to receive state aid and other necessary support.

When designated as special zones, 50 percent to 80 percent of provincial governments’ recovery costs will be defrayed from state coffers.

The government will roll out relief payouts for residents who have suffered damages to their houses, facilities or fisheries and farms. Tax reductions will be applied for people in the zones including on health insurance, telecommunications and electronic fees.

This week, the government injected a special tax grant of 7 billion won ($5.9 million) to Gyeonggi Province, North Chungcheong, South Chungcheong and Gangwon provinces, after providing 200 million won in emergency disaster relief to Icheon and Anseong in Gyeonggi Province and Chungju, Jaecheon, Umseong and Danyang in North Chungcheong Province.

According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, 17 people had died and 10 others had gone missing as of 6 a.m. Friday, since the downpour started on Aug. 1.

People in South Chungcheong Province and North Chungcheong Province have been affected by the torrential rains the most.

The number of people displaced in South Chungcheong Province stood at 748, followed by 636 in North Chungcheong Province, 628 in Gangwon Province, 497 in Gyeonggi Province, six in Seoul and three in North Gyeongsang Province.

A total of 6,162 houses and private and public facilities are reported to have been destroyed since Aug. 1.

The heavy rain affected some 8,161 hectares of farmland and inundated 1,949 houses, along with 1,069 roads and bridges.

Some 62,000 police officers, firefighters and soldiers have been mobilized for emergency repair works, and have resolved 4,085 facilities damage cases, or 65.5 percent of the total.

Military authorities have been on alert after receiving a report that two landmines and an empty anti-tank mine had drifted into Cheorwon Country in Gangwon Province on Thursday. The mines were removed by military personnel

On Friday, authorities launched mine detection operations in areas near the border with North Korea on the possibility that landmines planted during the Korean War could have drifted in nearby areas.

Rescue and search operations continued for five missing people from an accident in which three boats capsized at Uiam Dam in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Thursday. Of the three boats, one belonging to police was discovered Friday morning, but no missing person was found with it.

Of eight people on the ships, two were rescued and one man was found dead Thursday.

More torrential rains are expected over the weekend, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

Northern parts of the Chungcheong provinces will see up to 50 millimeters of rain falling through Saturday morning, while Seoul and portions of Gyeonggi, North Jeolla, Gangwon and North Gyeongsang provinces are expected to see up to 100 mm on Sunday.

By Park Han-na (