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Typhoon Maemi Kills 96 in South Korea

South Korea's worst-ever typhoon caused $1.3 billion in damage, battering the nation's main port and industrial southeastern coast and leaving 121 people dead or missing, the government said Monday.

Business giants Hyundai and LG were preparing for disruptions to their exports in the aftermath of Maemi (search), which carried winds up to 135 mph before dissipating in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

A government statement said the typhoon killed at least 96 people, while 25 others were missing and 8,938 were homeless.

Maemi blew into the country with such intensity Friday that it tossed shipping containers into the air and toppled eight giant cargo cranes and damaged three others in Busan (search), South Korea's largest port. Government officials said it would take at least 15 months to restore the cranes.

The government estimated the property damage at $1.3 billion, with 5,000 houses destroyed or damaged and 20 major companies shut down on the southeastern coast.

Losses from export slowdowns, disruptions and lost business opportunities were expected to amount to millions of dollars more. Busan normally handles 80 percent of the country's container shipping.

The government may now struggle to achieve even 3 percent growth this year and is unlikely to meet its target of 3.5 percent because of the typhoon, the Korea Times newspaper said.

On Monday, shares of major export-dependent electronics companies, property insurers, shipbuilding, oil refining and petrochemical companies fell on the Korea Stock Exchange (search).

Among companies expected to be hit are LG Electronics, South Korea's second-largest mobile phone handset maker, Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest shipbuilder, and Samsung, the world's biggest computer memory chip maker.

Busan port handles 90 percent of LG's exports such as televisions, refrigerators, and computer monitors. LG Electronics said it is considering switching deliveries from Busan to other ports to meet export deadlines.

Hyundai Heavy Industries said one of its vessels collided with a chemical tanker being built at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, damaging both ships. The damage was estimated to be between $4.2 million and $5.9 million, the company said, adding that insurance should cover the cost.

Two of South Korea's five nuclear power plants that were shut down during the typhoon resumed operations Monday, yet thousands of homes were still without electricity.

The typhoon damaged 774 roads, 27 bridges, and submerged 43,027 acres of farmland, the government said in a statement. A total of 465 vessels were destroyed or marooned.

South Korea is usually hit by several typhoons each summer and early fall. In September last year, Typhoon Rusa left at least 119 dead. The deadliest typhoon ever to hit South Korea was Sara, which killed 849 people in 1959.