Repairs begin after typhoon ravages Busan

Repairs begin after typhoon ravages Busan

Emergency repairs have begun at South Korea's main Port of Busan, where 11 container cranes were flattened by a typhoon that ripped across the peninsula over the weekend.

Officials say repairs on the cranes, which weigh as much as 900 tons, could take up to 15 months to complete, but they hope to have some operating within a month.

Busan handles about 80 percent of the country's exports and import traffic.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said the most ravaged areas within the port area are the Jaseongdae and Singamman container depots.

Of Jaseongdae's 12 container cranes, two were destroyed and three knocked off their rails. Officials say it will take up to 45 days to remove the wreckage and a further 45 days to inspect the derailed cranes and refit them.

At Singamman, six of its seven cranes were demolished, and will take the same amount of work and time to replace as at Jaseongdae. One crane is working, but cannot work ships larger than 50,000 deadweight tons.

A ministry spokesman said it would move three cranes being built for the Port of Gwangyang on the south coast to Singamman, to help restore operations at Busan. Officials at the container depots say they may acquire used cranes from other countries, assuming they meet the criteria of rails and power.

"Though some functions have been paralyzed, let us set a new record in normalizing the distribution of goods," President Roh Moo-hyun said during a tour of the port. "If criteria are met, I will declare the southern region a special disaster area."

The death toll from Maemi, Korea's worst typhoon in a century topped 100 with property damage running to nearly a billion dollars. Both figures are expected to rise.