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Foreign Affairs Ministry, “Eight Koreans Dead”

Posted December. 30, 2004 22:33,   


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on December 30 that as of 3:00 p.m., eight Koreans have been confirmed dead and another eight injured due to the earthquake and tsunamis that occurred around the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. It also said that out of 1,030 who were reported missing, 376 were located and thus 654 remain missing.

The ministry’s spokesperson Lee Gyu-hyung said, “So far, three deaths are confirmed and an additional two were found dead in Phi Phi Island. We are waiting for the identification of the two people by their families. The number of missing people decreased to eight, five in Phi Phi and three in Khao Lak.”

Spokesperson Lee corrected the Reuters’s report, “Reuters on December 28 quoted the Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation’s figure to report ‘41 Korean deaths,’ but it was confirmed as false.” He explained that it appears that Reuters mistakenly took the number of casualties at hospitals in Phuket for the death toll.

Therefore, Reuters changed the report at 10:46 a.m. on December 30 to “six Koreans dead, 10 missing” from the original “41 Koreans dead, 17 missing,” which was its official figure, by 8:25 a.m. on the same day (Korean time).

On the fifth day after the tsunamis, in Khao Lak, Phuket, Thailand, excavators were used for the first time to find missing Koreans and 15 119 rescuers began searching for victims. The search and rescue efforts kicked off fervently.

As of 3:00 p.m. on December 30, the death toll was 77,367 according to AP, 80,936 according to AFP, and 82,847 according to Reuters.

In response to the tragedy, top officials from the government and the ruling party held an emergency meeting in the afternoon on December 30 at the National Assembly’s VIP dining room and agreed to send an additional $3 million (approx. 3,120,000,000 won) to affected countries for reconstruction, increasing the government’s total financial assistance to $5 million.

Ho-Gab Lee Hyong-gwon Pu gdt@donga.com bookum90@donga.com