Sea villa

Typhoon hits South Korea, preparations minimize casualties

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The most powerful typhoon to hit South Korea in years killed at least three people, dumped a meter (3 feet) of rain, destroyed roads and downed power lines on Tuesday . The death toll could have been higher had it not been for the proactive evacuations and school closures, officials said.

The public was also more aware of the storm and its risks. Typhoon Hinnamnor had an impact just weeks after heavy rains around the capital, Seoul, caused flooding that killed at least 14 people.

Government officials put the nation on high alert for days as they approached Hinnamnor, warning of potentially historic destruction and enacting rescue measures.

After skimming the resort island of Jeju and making landfall near the port city of Busan, Hinnamnor weakened as it blew through the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

South Korea’s meteorological agency said Hinnamnor was over high seas 280 kilometers (173 miles) northeast of Ulleung Island with weakened winds 115 kilometers (71 miles) adrift. time Tuesday afternoon. It was expected to downgrade to a tropical storm overnight as it moves northeast between Russia and the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, the agency said.

However, damage was still severe in the southern city of Pohang, where two people were found dead and at least seven others missing after the storm submerged roads and buildings, triggered landslides and flooded a shopping mall. .

Cars with broken windows and open trunks lay strewn on the roads like garbage. An entire two-story pool villa was uprooted from the ground and swept away by flash floods. Troops were deployed to help with rescue and restoration efforts, moving in armored vehicles through the streets turned into chocolate-colored rivers.

Firefighters navigated flooded neighborhoods in rubber dinghies, saving people and their pets. Merchants rushed to scavenge furniture and other goods at the famous Guryongpo open-air market, where workers deployed diggers to clear huge piles of debris.

Rain and flooding eroded the foundations of bridges and highways, which were often broken into pieces or blocked by fallen trees and utility poles. Factory buildings tilted, while a shipping container exploded and landed on top of cars in a parking lot.

“I woke up at 5 a.m. to the explosive rain, and I got really worried because the water came up to my door,” said Kim Seong-chang, a resident of Pohang, in an interview with JTBC. “The water was still thigh high at 7 a.m. and those parking their cars on the streets were in a panic as their vehicles were submerged. . Other residents were draining water from their homes.

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 mainland also suffered damage – toppled road signs and roofs, toppled trees and road signs, and destroyed roads.

In Pohang, a 70-year-old woman died after being swept away by flash floods, while another 60-year-old woman was found dead in a submerged basement parking lot, where a search continued for five people.

Wading through the neck-deep waters of the parking lot with ropes tied to their bodies, rescuers managed to pull out two people who had been trapped on Tuesday evening. President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a congratulatory message after the rescue of the first survivor, calling it a “miracle”.

Rescuers failed to recover another man who had called for help before he disappeared, believed to have been swept away by flash floods.

In nearby Gyeongju, a woman in her 80s died after her home was buried in a landslide. In Ulsan, another southern city, a 25-year-old man was reported missing after falling into a rain-swollen stream, according to the Interior and Security Ministry.

Also in Pohang, firefighters extinguished flames that damaged at least three facilities at a large steel plant operated by POSCO. A presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity during a briefing, said officials were investigating the cause of the fires.

Local firefighters said the flames destroyed a building housing electrical equipment and damaged a separate office block and coking plant before being extinguished.

The Ministry of Security said about 3,200 of the 4,500 people who had been forced to evacuate returned home on Tuesday afternoon. More than 80 homes, buildings and factories were flooded or destroyed, and hundreds of roads, bridges and facilities were damaged.

More than 600 schools have been closed or converted to online classes. Workers had managed to restore electricity to 78,890 of the 89,180 homes that had lost power.

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

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

About the photo: Waves hit a shore in Pohang, South Korea on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate in South Korea as Typhoon Hinnamnor made landfall in the southern parts of the country on Tuesday, triggering rains and strong winds that destroyed trees and roads and left more than 20,000 homes without power. (Kim Hyun-tai/Yonhap via AP)

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