South Korea hunkered down as Typhoon Haishen rolled northwards along the country’s east coast yesterday, a day after the powerful storm battered Japan’s southern islands, where four people are missing following a landslide.
The storm, packing sustained winds of up to 112km per hour, temporarily cut power to more than 75,000 households and displaced some 3,100 people in South Korea after making landfall on the southeastern tip of the peninsula, according to the safety ministry.
At least two people died, two more were missing and five others were injured, mostly in southern regions hit by flooding, the ministry said. The wild weather uprooted trees and caused landslides near apartment buildings on Geoje Island, off the southeastern tip of the peninsula, local media footage and photos showed. Two nuclear reactors in the city of Gyeongju, around 375km southeast of Seoul were shut down, according to Yonhap news agency. More than 340 flights and 114 shipping routes around the country were cancelled, while nearly 6,000 schools switched to remote learning or cut class hours.
Entry to national parks and some national train services have been suspended, the ministry said. But the weather agency eased safety warnings later in the day as the typhoon moved off towards North Korea. President Moon Jae-in expressed concerns about potential further damage to some regions already pummelled by earlier typhoons, requesting a quick on-site survey so that hard-hit areas could be designated as special disaster zones and receive extra aid.
In Japan, the Kyodo news agency reported that four people were missing and more than 50 people were injured in the wake of the typhoon. The four went missing in a village in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki after a mudslide hit the office of a construction firm, Kyodo said.
Among the injured were a woman who fell down a flight of stairs in the dark and four people who sustained cuts after the glass windows of an evacuation centre were blown in. Kyushu Electric said about 290,000 houses were still without power as of 1pm. Almost 2mn people had been ordered to evacuate the region, which was still recovering from heavy rains and flooding in July that killed 83 people.
Typhoon Haishen comes just days after Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean peninsula, leaving at least two dead and thousands without power. North Korea, which bore the brunt of both Maysak and Typhoon Bavi a week earlier, was on high alert as the storm approached its southeastern province of Kangwon on Monday afternoon.
Live footage on state TV, a rarity that has now been broadcast for three weeks, showed shaking trees, high waves and flooded bridges and roads in Tongchon and Wonsan, both in Kangwon, bordering the South. All Tongchon residents and many others in the province had been evacuated, the broadcaster said.
“Flood warnings were issued for rivers, streams and reservoirs as many of them have not yet been able to shed the water swollen by the earlier typhoon,” the official KCTV said, adding some northern rivers could be hit by up to 200 millimetres in rainfall until Tuesday. North Korea’s agriculture sector is particularly vulnerable to severe weather, and this summer’s storms and floods have raised concerns over the country’s tenuous food situation. The country’s leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday toured coastal areas hit by Maysak, and ordered party members to join the recovery effort.
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