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(2nd LD) Heavy downpours pound S. Korea, as Typhoon Meari approaches peninsula

All Headlines 23:28 June 25, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES with latest developments, including four people dead in Korea)

SEOUL, June 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was on alert Saturday as a powerful typhoon was approaching it rapidly after causing heavy casualties and property damage in Southeast Asia.

The typhoon was feared to cause more problems in South Korea which has already been swamped in up to 330 millimeters of rain that fell in the past two days. Officials reported four people were killed and several others missing in rain-related accidents.

The downpours that began Thursday in the central inlands inflicted heavy damage nationwide, including collapse of a pedestrian bridge on the Naktong River in the southeast, massive inundation of farmlands, flooding of greenhouses and rockslides and mudslides on mountain roads.

The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) forecast that the typhoon, dubbed "Meari" in Korean which means "echo" in English, was expected to reach the west coast of South Korea early Sunday morning.

South Korea's southern island of Jeju came under the effect of the typhoon as of early Saturday night, prompting authorities to block public access to major mountain and walking trails for tourists.

On the way to the Korean Peninsula, the typhoon pounded several Southeast Asian countries, resulting in 13 people dead in Vietnam and 15 people missing in the Philippines, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said it has set up a disaster control center to deal with property and other damage expected to be caused by the typhoon.

Last year, powerful Typhoon Kompasu swept through the country, killing five people and causing some 23.3 billion won (US$19.9 million) worth of property damages.



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