Bomb Shelters on Yeonpyeong Island Still in Disrepair

      August 19, 2011 11:11

      Residents of Yeonpyeong Island sit in a dilapidated shelter during North Korea's shelling of the western island on Nov. 26, 2010.

      Bomb shelters on Yeonpyeong Island have remained neglected for the last nine months despite urgent calls to reinforce them and ensure islanders' safety after North Korea shelled the island in November.

      According to islanders, most of the 19 shelters on the island were unusable on Aug. 10, when the North Korean coastal artillery again shelled waters off the island, because they were submerged and power supply was cut off in the wake of downpours.

      On Aug. 10, "no evacuation announcement was made. Worse, residents found the floor of some shelters filled with water," said Kim Jae-sik (49), the chairman of a Yeonpyeong islanders' committee. "One shelter that was in better condition was so packed with the families of military officers that it was difficult for ordinary islanders to squeeze in."

      "Since the North's attack last November, the government has worked out various responses, but it's failed to maintain the bomb shelters properly despite the urgent need to restore them," said islander Kim Young-sik (60). "With the floor flooded by rain, there's no single foam mat in the shelters, let alone emergency supplies like bottled water and pot noodles."

      The local government is building 42 new bomb shelters on the five northwestern-most islands in the West Sea, including Yeonpyeong, with a budget of W53 billion (US$1=W1,075) from central government. The new shelters will be furnished with heating and cooling systems, bathrooms, kitchens, public-address booths, and power generators.

      But it a mere W14.6 million was allocated to Yeonpyeong to maintain and repair the old dilapidated shelters.

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