Typhoon hits South Korea with 3 feet of rain and damaging winds

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The strongest typhoon to hit South Korea in years hit its southern region on Tuesday, dumping three feet of rain, destroying roads and downing power lines, leaving 66,000 homes without power as thousands flee to safer ground.

Typhoon Hinnamnor brushed past the tourist island of Jeju and hit the mainland near the port city of Busan before blowing into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan with winds of up to 133 kilometers (82 miles) per hour. It was moving northeast on a track to affect eastern China later in the week.

South Korean officials have put the nation on alert over potential damage from floods, landslides and tidal waves triggered by Hinnamnor just weeks after heavy rains in the region around the capital Seoul caused floods that killed at least 14 people.

Prime Minister Han Duk-soo has called for evacuations in areas vulnerable to flooding, saying Hinnamnor could become a “historically strong typhoon the likes of which we have never experienced before”.

The storm has dumped more than 105 centimeters (41 inches) of rain in central Jeju since Sunday, when winds peaked at 155 km/h (96 mph). Southern and eastern parts of the continent were also hit by heavy rains, which toppled road signs and roofs, toppled trees and utility poles and turned roads into chocolate-colored rivers.

A 70-year-old woman died in the southern city of Pohang after being swept away by flash floods, while two other people were missing, including a 25-year-old man who fell into a rain-swollen stream in the nearby town of Pohang. ‘Ulsan, according to the Ministry of Interior and Security.

Fires were reported at a large POSCO-operated steel mill in Pohang, but it was not immediately clear if they were caused by the storm.

The Ministry of Security said around 500 of the 3,400 people who had been forced to evacuate returned home by Tuesday afternoon. At least five homes and buildings were flooded or destroyed, and dozens of roads were damaged.

More than 600 schools have been closed or converted to online classes. More than 250 flights and 70 ferry services have been grounded while more than 66,000 fishing boats have been evacuated to ports. By late morning, workers had succeeded in restoring power to 30,006 of the 66,341 homes that had lost power.

A South Korean presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing, said officials were investigating the cause of the fires at the POSCO factory in Pohang, where firefighters were working to douse the flames which damaged at least three facilities in the complex.

Lim Yoon-sook, a fire official from North Gyeongsang Province, said the flames destroyed a building housing electrical equipment and continued to burn in a separate office building, although workers were on the verge of put out a small fire in a coke factory.

In North Korea, state media reported “total efforts” to minimize damage from floods and landslides. Korea’s Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un in government meetings issued unspecified “detailed tasks” to improve the country’s disaster response capability, but he did not specify the specifics. planes.

North Korea suffered severe damage following heavy rains and floods in 2020 that destroyed buildings, roads and crops, shocking the country’s already crippled economy.

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