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(2nd LD) Typhoon kills seven, knocks out power, suspends domestic flights

All Headlines 21:23 June 26, 2011

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead to update the number of casualties to seven as of 5 p.m.; UPDATES with additional details in paras 4, 11)

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- Typhoon Meari brought heavy downpours and gusts across South Korea Sunday, leaving at least seven people dead or missing and dozens of domestic flights suspended.

A rescue official in South Korea's eastern province of Gangwon was killed during a search-and-rescue operation for a missing toddler, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

A student presumed to be 15 years old was found dead after being washed away in rapid torrents in Chungju, 147 kilometers southeast of Seoul, according to the local anti-disaster agency.

NEMA said at least seven people were killed or missing throughout the country as of 5 p.m.

The gusts knocked over power lines in the southern resort island of Jeju, leaving hundreds of people without power for up to one hour and forcing several airports on the island and in other provinces to cancel dozens of domestic flights.

Still, no disruptions of international flights were reported at the country's two major airports in Seoul and Incheon, west of Seoul, according to aviation officials.

Meari, the Korean word for "echo," passed through the country's southwest coast early Sunday and was expected to reach North Korean waters later in the day before landing on the northern part of North Korea on Monday morning, NEMA said on its Web site.

The North issued a typhoon warning and braced for heavy rains and strong winds, the country's state broadcaster said.

North Korea has launched a nationwide campaign to try to prevent damage from heavy rainfall, the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday.

The Korean Peninsula is expected to be rid of the typhoon by Tuesday morning, NEMA said.

The downpours also submerged several houses, over 1,200 hectares of farmland and dozens of greenhouses while destroying several streets and a rail bridge in the country's central and southeastern areas.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has set up a disaster control center to deal with possible damage to property and other structures from the typhoon.

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

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

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