Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Thousands in South Korea help clear record snow

AFP, SEOUL

Passengers wait in a line for a bus on a snow-covered road in the city of Gangneung, near the potential winter Olympic venue of Pyeongchang, South Korea, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

South Korea mobilized thousands of government workers and soldiers yesterday to clear a record snowfall that hit the country’s Gangwon Province.

Weathermen said up to 100cm of snow fell in some mountain areas in the port of Samcheok on Friday and Saturday, the heaviest since records began in 1911.

Gangneung City, near the potential winter Olympic venue of Pyeongchang, received 77.7cm on Friday alone.

An International Olympic Committee inspection team was scheduled to arrive yesterday in Pyeongchang to assess its suitability for the 2018 event.

Snow stopped falling on Sunday, but the region was forecast to receive up to 50cm late yesterday, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

The Ministry of National Defense said 9,800 soldiers were deployed yesterday for snow-clearing, as military helicopters carried food to isolated villages. The snowstorm left hundreds of cars stranded and damaged farmland.

About 4.8 billion won (US$4.3 million) worth of property damage was reported, Gangwon provincial authorities said, adding that the figure was expected to rise sharply.

Meanwhile, Spring has come early to a mountain named after North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, the North’s state news agency reported yesterday, continuing its adoring coverage in the run-up to the leader’s birthday this week.

“Peculiar natural phenomena heralding spring are observed in the area of Jong-il Peak,” the agency reported, citing the early appearance of willow buds and a solar halo that appeared above the peak for 32 minutes on Feb. 7

The peak is part of Mount Paekdu, on the border with China, a sacred site to Koreans where Kim was born on Feb. 16, 1942, according to official accounts.

Independent experts say his birthplace was a guerrilla camp in Russia, from where his father was fighting Japanese colonial forces.

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