Yoon pays respects to flood victims during Pohang visit
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday traveled to Pohang in North Gyeongsang, one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Hinnamnor, and stressed his commitment to disaster relief and recovery efforts.
Yoon visited the underground parking lot of the apartment complex in Nam District in Pohang that was flooded as the powerful typhoon passed the country Tuesday to examine the damage and thank firefighters and soldiers for their tireless rescue efforts. Nine people were found through rescue efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday, but only two survived.
Yoon received an on-site briefing from the fire department on the current situation and spoke with the flood victims, pledging to do his "utmost" to aid their recovery efforts.
He was accompanied by officials including Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min, SMEs and Startups Minister Lee Young, Agricultural Minister Chung Hwang-keun and North Gyeongsang Gov. Lee Cheol-woo.
Yoon paid his respects at a memorial altar for the people who died in the underground parking lot. He also visited other areas affected by the typhoon, including a traditional market in Pohang, offering encouragement to the merchants there, and made a stop at a reservoir affected by the flooding in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Yoon said he will designate Pohang as a special disaster zone as soon as possible.
"We will proceed with the damage inspections as swiftly as possible and promptly declare necessary areas as special disaster zones," said Yoon while presiding over a Cabinet meeting at the Yongsan presidential office in central Seoul to assess the damage caused by the typhoon.
Yoon also said that the government will approve an emergency initial fund of 50 billion won ($36 million) in reserve funds for typhoon damage recovery efforts, as well as special grants.
He noted that government earmarked 6.1 trillion won for natural disaster response in next year's budget, up 17 percent from this year, and encouraged officials to do their best to make sure the budget is passed in the National Assembly.
He instructed related ministries to "focus on recovery efforts" and work together to quickly restore key facilities such as roads, dams and embankments and recover flooded homes and farmland.
"The government will not let down its guard until the end with a determination to take unlimited responsibility to protect people's lives and property," said Yoon. "I will personally oversee every situation until all the people are able to fully return to their daily lives."
Yoon offered his "deepest consolation to the people who have suffered damages" as the typhoon came less than a month after the country was hit by historic torrential rains and heavy flooding and especially thanked emergency response workers for their efforts to contain the situation.
He said he and his ministers will "take measures for the government to offer relief to the families of the victims."
"As I always say, the underprivileged in our society suffer greater damages and suffering in times of disaster," said Yoon. "We will provide practical aid to the people affected through every measure the government can take, such as emergency relief funds and insurances."
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]