Typhoon Sanba, packing winds of 137kph, slammed into South Korea yesterday, bringing torrential rains across the country and shutting down flights and ferry services.
Sanba — the third major typhoon to hit the Korean Peninsula in two months — was roaring close to Daegu yesterday afternoon after making landfall at Yeosu shortly before midday.
Moving at around 35kph, the typhoon pounded the South Korean island of Jeju overnight on Sunday, leaving about 10,000 homes without power and damaging roads. Heavy rains across the country triggered landslides that killed a 53-year-old woman in Seongju and injured two people in nearby Gyeongju City.
As it crossed southwestern Japan on Sunday, the typhoon had claimed one life and cut power to 100,000 households.
“Although its power is diminishing due to the low sea temperature, and is expected to diminish even more after making landfall, it’s still a powerful typhoon,” a spokesman for the Korea Meteorological Administration said.
Seoul authorities warned of heavy rainfall of nearly 300mm in Jeju and southern coastal regions from Sunday to last night.
Severe storm alerts issued in southern regions earlier yesterday expanded to the entire country in the afternoon, the weather service said, adding floods warnings have also been issued in some areas.
“The entire nation will experience very strong wind and heavy rain as the typhoon moves northward,” it said, urging “special caution” in the east coastal regions to be hit by downpour of up to 300mm throughout yesterday.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged officials to mobilize “all possible resources” to limit the impact on farm produce prices ahead of a major holiday.
“With the typhoon expected to roar right across the nation ... please mobilize all possible resources, including the army, to minimize crop damages ahead of the Chuseok [fall harvest] holiday,” Lee’s spokesman quoted him as saying.
As the typhoon made landfall, powerful winds uprooted large trees, ripped away business hoardings and advertising billboards and knocked over traffic lights. Several train services were suspended or delayed due to landslide and strong wind that also caused power cuts which hit about 130,000 homes mostly in southern regions. The typhoon is expected to move northeast across the peninsula and back out to sea over the North Korean port of Chongjin.
More than 260 flights — including 52 international — and all 88 ferry services across South Korea were canceled yesterday, the transport ministry said, adding 2,000 ships had been taken out of the storm’s path. About 1,100 residents in vulnerable areas have been taken to shelters, the National Emergency Management Agency said, while 12,000 residents in other areas have been advised to evacuate.