Gov't Considers Damage from Potential Mt. Baekdu Eruption

      September 30, 2010 11:58

      The Ministry of Strategy and Finance on Wednesday warned of damage a volcanic eruption of Mt. Baekdu on the Chinese-North Korean border could mean to South Korea's economy.

      In a report, the ministry included the possibility of Mt. Baekdu erupting among mid- to long-term risks facing the South Korean economy. "If a volcanic eruption occurs on Mt. Baekdu in the winter, northerly or northwesterly winds could carry volcanic ashes to the country," the ministry said and called for "adequate measures."

      The prevailing winds at Mt. Baekdu are westerly, leading to forecasts of negligible damage to the South from volcanic ashes, but the wind sometimes changes in winter.

      If volcanic ashes were to travel over to the Korean Peninsula in the winter and disrupt air traffic for 10 days, South Korea's exports would drop by US$2.5 billion, while tourism and other service sector business and agricultural output would face huge setbacks, the report said.

      If the volcanic ashes deflect sunlight, the ensuing cold temperatures could adversely affect crops, it added. "It is possible to calculate the direct amount of damage caused by disruptions to air traffic," a ministry official said. "But it is difficult to gauge the level of indirect damage, such as the drop in the number of tourists due to flight disruptions or damage caused to crops."

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