World

South Korea battles both virus and floods

SEOUL: South Korean officials were working to keep more than a thousand people displaced by flooding safe and healthy with anti-coronavirus measures at crowded shelters yesterday.

At least 15 people have been killed and more than 1,500 forced from their homes as 42 consecutive days of rain - South Korea's longest monsoon in seven years - triggered floods and landslides.

More than 1,100 people remained in temporary shelters set up in gyms and community centres as of yesterday, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said, with measures implemented to prevent the spread of the virus. Fabric enclosures were set up for families and individuals, with beds spaced apart to encourage social distancing.

Local governments designated managers to check people's temperatures and screen for any symptoms, and displaced residents were asked to wear masks and wash their hands, health authorities said.

South Korea has 14,456 cases, including 33 new cases as of Tuesday, with 302 deaths.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun told a meeting of government officials that the Health Ministry should declare three provinces in northern South Korea as special disaster zones, which would entitle them to receive additional aid.

In North Korea, state media warned of "torrential" rain, possible flooding and high winds and waves. It has historically been vulnerable to flooding.

The rain appears to be hitting some of the major rice-growing areas of North Korea, and come as anti-coronavirus border closures restricted key agricultural supplies such as fertiliser from China, said research fellow Choi Yong-ho at the Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul. - REUTERS

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