Seoul: The South Korean government said on Tuesday that it will assume more responsibility in handling and helping the country to recover from regional emergencies.

The statement came in the backdrop of North Korea's shelling of a border island last November.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security said that the government plans to revise a civil defense law and a law on the management of resources reserved for emergencies.

Under present laws, the central government is only in charge of establishing and carrying out civil defense plans.

The public was in confusion when North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island near the tense western sea border killing four South Koreans last November but the central government did not move actively to secure emergency shelters for the evacuees and protect them.

The revised laws would make the state and municipal governments share the responsibility for building air-raid shelters and emergency water supply facilities on the island as well as rescue and rehabilitation efforts to better protect their people from crises, the ministry said.

City mayors, governors and ward office heads will no longer be the only group that can issue a civil defense warning when there is an emergency. If the laws are revised, it said, adding that the right will be expanded to include chiefs of smaller administrative units.

In addition, the country can launch volunteer civil defense forces with women and men aged 40 or older who are not members of the official civil defense troops, the government said.

(Agencies)