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S.Korea flood relief aid for N.Korea delayed by bad weather

Police arrest driver of bus swept away in Vietnam flood
Hanoi (AFP) Oct 25, 2010 - Police in Vietnam have arrested the driver of a bus that was swept away by flood waters last week, leaving 20 passengers dead or missing, a senior officer said Monday. "Investigators arrested the bus driver on Saturday for the charge of violating traffic laws, causing serious consequences," Tran Van Long, deputy head of police in Nghi Xuan district of Ha Tinh province, told AFP. Local media reported that the driver of the long-distance coach had ignored warnings and entered the flooded area. The bus was swept off the country's main north-south highway on October 18. Rescuers pulled it up three days later and found the bodies of 15 passengers. Long said a search was continuing for five more. "However, it is more and more difficult as the bodies might have moved towards the sea," he said. Eighteen passengers survived. Including the bus casualties, the floods sparked by heavy rains left at least 74 people dead in four provinces of central Vietnam.
by Staff Writers
Seoul, South Korea (AFP) Oct 25, 2010
Strong winds and high waves on Monday delayed a shipment of relief supplies from South Korea to North Korea, which was battered by torrential rain this summer, a report said.

Two ships, carrying rice and instant noodles, had been due to depart South Korean ports for the northeastern Chinese port of Dandong on the border with North Korea, the South's unification ministry said.

But a report by South Korea's Yonhap news agency said rough weather had meant a delay in the departure of a ship carrying 5,000 tons of rice aid, which would leave when conditions improved.

The report, quoting the unification ministry, said another ship had managed to leave a different port carrying three million packs of instant noodles.

South Korea has promised to send a 10 billion won (8.3 million dollars) aid package including rice, instant noodles, cement and other emergency supplies.

The shipment marks the South's first government-financed rice aid to its impoverished neighbour since a conservative government took office in Seoul in early 2008.

Cross-border relations have been icy since Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a South Korean warship in March with the loss of 46 lives.

The North denies responsibility but has made some peace gestures. This weekend the two sides will resume reunions of families separated by war 60 years ago.

In August, heavy rain devastated the North's northwestern region.

Typhoon Kompasu, which hit the peninsula in early September, further battered North Korea, killing dozens of people and bringing more damage to the nation, which is vulnerable to flooding after years of deforestation.

Aid groups warned that this year's flooding would aggravate the North's chronic food shortages.

But Seoul has been cautious in sending large-scale rice aid to Pyongyang amid questions over whether the food will reach flood-stricken civilians or be diverted to feed the North's 1.2 million-strong military.

The ministry said rice would be delivered in packs marked with "Donation from the Republic of Korea", the South's official name.

The South used to ship 400,000 tons of rice a year plus 300,000 tons of fertiliser to the North, but the shipments ended in 2008 as Seoul adopted a harder line towards Pyongyang.

earlier related report
Death toll from Thai floods hits 41
Bangkok (AFP) Oct 25, 2010 - The death toll in Thailand from two weeks of flooding rose to 41 on Monday after emergency officials reported a further three fatalities, as Bangkok stood on guard for rising river levels.

The nationwide floods, which began on October 10, have affected millions of people, damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and left authorities struggling to reach people stranded in remote areas.

Bangkok is on standby and the capital is carefully watching for rising river levels as flood water from the north runs downstream and could coincide with high tides over the next few days.

"We have to monitor the situation closely. We are still in a crisis situation but we have no reason to panic," Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on television.

Flood walls in Bangkok have been reinforced with 200,000 sandbags and more than 1,000 water pumps are ready, with plans under way for the evacuations of schools, monasteries and mosques if necessary.

The Irrigation Department warned residents close to Bangkok's Chao Phraya river to monitor the sandbags and barriers closely, although it said the water levels were actually slightly lower than on Sunday.

The death toll increased after one person died in the northern province of Nakhon Sawan and two in central Lopburi province, according to the latest report from the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand.

While the waters have receded in the east and northeast, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday that the situation in central provinces was a concern.

More than 2.6 million people across the country have been affected by this month's floods, while violent weather has also battered other countries in the region.

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Thai capital prepares for floods as waters rise
Bangkok (AFP) Oct 24, 2010
Bangkok braced for rising waters encroaching on the city on Sunday as the death toll from two weeks of nationwide flooding rose to 38, emergency officials said. The floods, which began on October 10, have affected millions of people across huge swathes of the country, inundating thousands of homes and leaving authorities struggling to reach people stranded in remote areas. Authorities in ... read more

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