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Soggy Korean Peninsula Begins Cleanup After Floods

Muddy water that had submerged homes, rice paddies, roads and railways began to recede Sunday, allowing thousands of police and volunteers to begin cleaning up from two weeks of pounding rains.

Weather forecasters lifted a storm warning along the border with North Korea as clear skies returned to the peninsula, providing hope to some of the tens of thousands driven from their homes.

Disaster officials said landslides and flooding from the rainstorm, the worst since 1987, killed 61 people, injured 70 and left 24 missing.

“It’s time to concentrate on rehabilitation,” Prime Minister Lee Hongkoo said before inspecting flood-ravaged regions by helicopter.

Though North Korean media have not mentioned the storm, authorities in the South say the heavy rains have further damaged the communist country’s rice belts. Massive flooding there last year forced half a million people from their homes and edged the country nearer to famine.

Forecasters, meanwhile, were warning the Philippines and Vietnam to brace for Typhoon Herb next week. Last week, its predecessor, Typhoon Gloria, pummeled the Philippines, killing at least 39 people. At the same time, Tropical Storm Frankie funneled through Vietnam, killing 41 people and injuring 224.

On the Korean peninsula this week, two major South Korean border towns, Yonchon and Munsan, virtually disappeared under floodwaters, leaving only roofs showing.

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