[EDITORIALS]Flood-devastated neighbors

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[EDITORIALS]Flood-devastated neighbors

Five thousand people living on the lower reaches of the Nakdong River have been isolated for more than a week after the recent rains. The Gimhae, Haman, Changnyeong and Hapcheon districts in South Gyeongsang province are flooded. A vast sheet of muddy water covers villages and farms. Victims suffer shortages of drinking water and other necessities, and endure the spread of skin diseases. Dams on the upper Nakdong River will continue to release water, so it will take nearly 10 more days for the flood to subside. Civilian, military and government forces must cooperate to redress the damage and aid the victims.

The flood-stricken area, as seen on television, is a pitiful sight. Farmland, houses and factories are submerged, and tens of thousands of drowned cattle are everywhere, giving off a terrible smell. The people are managing to subsist on water and instant noodles delivered by small rubber boats -- the only transportation that can reach them. Wastes and oil are in the flooded river, and skin diseases are spreading uncontrollably. Children and aged people suffer from cold symptoms triggered by abnormally low temperatures. Concern over the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases is growing. The government, however, has difficulty taking preventive measures against epidemics, because the flooded areas are too wide and all transportation means are shut down.

The floods have devastated inhabitants of the area. This year's crops and livestock herds are destroyed. They worry about how to make their living. Some residents have pressed the argument that the river's overflow is not a natural disaster, but a man-made one. They demand that the government designate their flooded villages as a disaster area and draw up recovery measures.

We urge the government to come up with special measures to restore the flood-damaged areas and help the victims. Preventing epidemics and stabilizing livelihood security are two particularly urgent needs. Instead of wasting time on administrative procedures and trying to cast blame, it is important to deploy manpower and spend the disaster recovery budgets of 1.8 trillion won ($1.5 billion) and donations of 400 billion won efficiently and promptly. Koreans must volunteer their time and money to help their suffering neighbors.
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