Death Toll from S. Korea Typhoon Climbs to 15

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South Korean rescuers Wednesday resumed a search for 10 missing crewmen from two Chinese fishing boats as the confirmed death toll from a strong typhoon rose to 15.

South Korean coast guards rescue a crew member (C) from a Chinese fishing boat stranded off Jeju island on August 28. Rescuers Wednesday resumed a search for 10 missing crewmen from two Chinese fishing boats as the confirmed death toll from a strong typhoon rose to 15

South Korean rescuers Wednesday resumed a search for 10 missing crewmen from two Chinese fishing boats as the confirmed death toll from a strong typhoon rose to 15.

Typhoon Bolaven -- the strongest to hit the South for almost a decade -- left a trail of deaths and damage in southwestern and south-central regions of the country on Tuesday.

It moved on to North Korea, where state media reported damaged crops and power cuts around the western city of Haeju. Some 300 roadside trees along the Pyongyang-Kaesong highway were snapped, halting traffic.

The final estimate of damage was expected to be greater, the official news agency said, after strong winds and heavy rain hit western regions.

Bolaven crossed the Yalu River into China early Wednesday.

In South Korea, the typhoon snapped 235 traffic lights, toppled 7,857 trees, damaged 42 ships or boats, 35 houses and 1,195 greenhouses, the public administration ministry said.

Some 6,418 hectares (15,852 acres) of farmland was damaged.

The storm drove two Chinese fishing ships aground early Tuesday off the southern island of Jeju, sparking a dramatic rescue operation.

Coastguards wearing wetsuits struggled through high waves and used a line launcher to pull a total of 12 people to safety. Six swam ashore, five bodies were recovered and 10 are still missing.

"We've deployed some 130 people including divers to look for the missing crew. A helicopter is also combing the area," an officer at the Seogwipo coastguard in Jeju told AFP.

The coastguard said in a statement it would make "utmost efforts" until it accounts for all missing crew members.

Other deaths were mostly caused by wind gusts that toppled walls or collapsed roofs or blew victims off their feet. The public administration ministry said the confirmed death toll, including the five Chinese, was 15.

Typhoon alerts covering most of the country were lifted as ferries and flights returned to normal and schools reopened. But South Korea is now on watch for another typhoon.

Tembin, located about 280 kilometres northeast of the Taiwanese capital Taipei early Wednesday, is approaching the South at a speed of 20 kilometres (12 miles) an hour.