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03Sep92 IRAQ: SOUTH KOREAN PLANT SEIZED BY GOVERNMENT.

Two South Korean contractors, Hyundai Engineering and Hanyang Equipment, have become the latest firms to have plant seized by the Iraqi government.Last month 24 machines including a crawler loader, two excavators, three cranes and six dump trucks have been taken from Hyundai. And a 400-tonne crane and 15 cars have been requisitioned from Hanyang.Since June, Hyundai has lost 34 pieces of plant and Hanyang 23 machines.Altogether, about 1,000 machines, worth almost £15 million, were left behind in Iraq by foreign contractors who fled the country after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.Apart from South Korean builders, firms from China, Poland and Bulgaria have also had equipment seized after president Saddam Hussein signed a decree in January allowing plant to be requisitioned.Most of the equipment is being put to work on the construction of a massive 565 km canal linking the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which is intended to open vast tracts between Baghdad and Basra for farming and irrigation. So far about 20 km has been built.The South Korean government has appealed through the Iraqi embassy in Seoul to have its contractors' equipment excluded from the requisition order, but this has so far had no effect.The fate of 17 engineers and fitters who were maintaining the equipment is also unknown.