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Parts of NKorean land mines wash up in South in wake of torrential flooding, deadly landslides
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) ' Parts of North Korean land mines washed up on South Korean shores near the border as troops continued combing the area Friday for other mines that may have been dislodged by deadly landslides and flooding, authorities said.
Two wooden North Korean mine boxes turned up in a river in Cheolwon on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone. The boxes were empty, the detonators and explosives inside believed to have been swept south by the current, a Defense Ministry official said.
Soldiers were searching the area for other North Korean mines, the official said. He requested anonymity, citing department rules.
There were fears, too, that South Korean land mines may be buried in the debris of a deadly landslide in Seoul.
The mines serve as a reminder of the continued danger on the Korean peninsula, which has remained in a technical state of war since the signing of a truce in 1953.
Decades ago, South Korea planted land mines in the mountains outside Seoul as part of efforts to thwart a possible land invasion by North Korean troops. Most were removed between 1999 and 2006, but 10 mines have not been accounted for, officials said.
North Korean mines, meanwhile, have floated south in the past, carried by currents. Dozens of land mines in similar wooden boxes swept south following heavy rains last year, killing one South Korean and injuring another.
Torrential downfalls since Tuesday have severely disrupted life in Seoul and its surrounding areas, submerging streets filled with idled cars, flooding subway stations and forcing businesses to shut. At least 50 people have been killed.
Tens of thousands of firefighters, soldiers, police officers and city workers scrambled to clean up walls of mud and search for survivors, the National Emergency Management Agency said.
The official death toll of 50 does not include 11 other people who died in accidents amid the rains that emergency officials say were caused by negligence. They cited a man who was drunk and went swimming in the floodwaters and drowned.
About 140 South Korean soldiers gripping metal detectors searched Seoul's Wumyeon Mountain and areas near South Korean army installations near the border for land mines. A landslide there Wednesday killed at least 16 people.
Heavy rains also pummeled North Korea, destroying homes and buildings, state media said.
North Korea is particularly susceptible to damage from flooding due to poor drainage and widespread deforestation, according to agronomists.