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S. Korean islanders seek shelter amid exchange of artillery fire
APRIL 02, 2014 00:48  
"I was having lunch around noon when I heard sound of North Korean military`s firing immediately followed by South Korean military`s response firing. The huge noise from K-9 self-propelled gun and Vulcan automatic cannon shook the windows of the restaurant. Then came an evacuation announcement saying that it`s a real situation. Then I ran to the shelter." (Kim Jeong-seok, head of Baengnyeong Island resident autonomy committee)

Due to North Korea`s military drills off the country`s western coast, residents of the five islands including Baengnyeong, Yeonpyeong and Daecheong islands were in horror. Kim ran to the shelter near a military unit as an evacuation order was issued. At the shelter were some 80 residents including senior citizens and children.

Around 12:40 p.m. when North Korea`s offshore firing drills started, the Baengnyeong-Yeonpyeong Marine Corps troops issued an evacuation announcement for 9,408 residents at the three islands. To fishing vessels operating near the five islands, order was also issued to return to harbors by 1 p.m. or evacuate to south of 37 degrees north latitude.

Some 367 passengers who were on board the Harmony Flower coming and going Incheon and Baengnyeong Island arrived at Daecheong Island around 1:20 p.m. in order to evacuate to a shelter on the island.

Since North Korea`s firing was notified in advance, shocks were relatively small. Forty-five children at Yeonpyeong public childcare facility were already moved to a nearby shelter with parents from 10 a.m. due to possible contingency.

Yet fishermen in Yeonpyeong Island are alert on possible additional firing by North Korea. One fisherman said, "Crab catching starts in earnest from Tuesday, but we are concerned about possible setbacks."

The evacuation order for residents at five islands was lifted at 4:30 p.m.

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