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North Korean leader berates officials over typhoon Lingling preparation

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a submarine factory in an undisclosed location, North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 23, 2019. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Seoul, South Korea Sep 07, 2019, 01.17 PM (IST)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has berated officials for their "easygoing" attitude to the approach of Typhoon Lingling, state media reported.

The powerful storm is expected to make landfall in the North on Saturday afternoon after passing off the coast of South Korea, according to Seoul's Korea Meteorological Association.

Kim convened an emergency meeting on Friday and said "dangerous circumstances" caused by the typhoon were "imminent", but that many in positions of authority were ill-prepared, the North's KCNA news service reported later that day.

Officials in the North "remain unchanged in their attitude and helpless against the typhoon, unaware of its seriousness and seized with the easygoing sentiment", Kim said during the meeting, according to the KCNA report.

In South Korea, more than 270 flights were cancelled and power outages in over 30,000 homes have been reported, while public parks and zoos were closed for the weekend after heavy rain and strong winds on Saturday.

Seoul's weather authorities also warned of landslides and flooding and advised the public to stay indoors.

Kim said efforts to minimise damage from the typhoon in North Korea would be an "enormous struggle", adding that its army should "remain loyal to its sacred duty" of ensuring its citizens' safety.

The impoverished and isolated North is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due in part to deforestation and poor infrastructure.

At least 138 North Koreans were known to have died after torrential rain triggered major floods in 2016, the United Nations said at the time.

More than 160 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in the summer of 2012.

Story highlights

Kim convened an emergency meeting on Friday and said "dangerous circumstances" caused by the typhoon were "imminent", but that many in positions of authority were ill-prepared, the North's KCNA news service reported later that day.