Sun, Sep 08, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Typhoon slams into Korean Peninsula

‘DANGEROUS CIRCUMSTANCES’:Kim Jong-un berated North Korean officials for a lack of preparedness and said minimizing damage would be an ‘enormous struggle’

Reuters and AFP, SEOUL

A powerful typhoon early yesterday slammed into South Korea, killing at least one person and disrupting power to 57,000 households before turning toward North Korea, authorities said.

Typhoon Lingling struck Jeju Island and southern port cities overnight, knocking out power and damaging buildings as it moved north at 49kph, the South Korean Ministry of the Interior and Safety said in a statement.

A 75-year-old woman was killed after being blown over by strong winds in Boryeong, a city 140km southwest of Seoul, and at least two other people were injured, it said.

More than 230 flights were canceled and power outages were reported in tens of thousands of homes, authorities said, while public parks and zoos were closed for the weekend due to heavy rain and strong winds.

The storm, which was packing wind speeds of up to 125kph, was projected to pass by the capital, Seoul, and reach North Korea by about 6pm, a ministry official told reporters.

The eye of the typhoon was expected to pass over the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, according to a tracking map the Korea Meteorological Administration posted on its Web site.

Officials from the agency warned of the possibility of landslides and flooding, advising the public to stay indoors.

On Friday in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over an emergency meeting to discuss “urgent emergency measures to cope with the typhoon,” state media reported yesterday.

‘EASYGOING SENTIMENT’

Kim convened the meeting and said that “dangerous circumstances” caused by the typhoon were “imminent,” but that many in positions of authority were ill-prepared, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Senior North Korean officials “remain unchanged in their attitude and helpless against the typhoon, unaware of its seriousness and seized with easygoing sentiment,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying, adding that he called for full emergency measures.

Efforts to minimize the damage from the typhoon in North Korea would be an “enormous struggle,” Kim was quoted as saying, adding that the nation’s military should “remain loyal to its sacred duty” of ensuring citizens’ safety.

KCNA said in a separate statement that government officials and the armed forces were preparing to “urgently dispatch forces to damaged areas by using various kinds of alarm and communications means, and secure relief goods and building equipment and materials and mobilize transport.”

The impoverished and isolated North is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due in part to deforestation and poor infrastructure.

At least 138 North Koreans were known to have died after torrential rain triggered major floods in 2016, the UN said at the time.

More than 160 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in the summer of 2012.

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