North Korean leader berates officials over typhoon prep

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has berated officials for their “easygoing” attitude to the approach of Typhoon Lingling, state media reported.

The powerful storm is expected to make landfall in the North on Saturday afternoon after passing off the coast of South Korea, according to Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Administration.

Kim convened an emergency meeting on Friday and said “dangerous circumstances” caused by the typhoon were “imminent”, but that many in positions of authority were ill prepared, the North’s KCNA news service said later that day.

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Officials in North Korea “remain unchanged in their attitude and helpless against the typhoon, unaware of its seriousness and seized with easygoing sentiment”, Kim said during the meeting, according to the KCNA report.

The impoverished and isolated North is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due in part to deforestation and poor infrastructure.

In South Korea, at least one death was reported after the country was hit by the storm, which on Saturday had wind speeds of up to 125 kilometres per hour (80 mph).

A woman in her 70s was killed after being blown over by strong winds in Boryeong, a city 140 kilometres (85 miles) southwest of Seoul, authorities said.

More than 230 flights were cancelled and power outages were reported in more than 30,000 South Korean homes, while public parks and zoos were closed for the weekend due to heavy rain and strong winds.

Seoul’s weather authorities also warned of landslides and flooding, advising the public to stay indoors.

Kim said efforts to minimise damage from the typhoon in North Korea would be an “enormous struggle”, adding that its army should “remain loyal to its sacred duty” of ensuring citizens’ safety.

At least 138 North Koreans were known to have died after torrential rain triggered major floods in 2016, the United Nations said at the time.

More than 160 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in the summer of 2012.

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