SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — A powerful typhoon ripped through South Korea’s southern and eastern coasts with tree-snapping winds and flooding rains Thursday, knocking out power to thousands of homes and leaving at least one person dead.
Packing winds with maximum speed of 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour, Typhoon Maysak was offshore east of the city of Gangneung on Thursday morning and heading toward North Korea, South Korea’s weather agency said.
North Korea’s state TV showed widespread flooding in the eastern coastal cities of Wonsan and Tanchon, but the country didn’t immediately report any casualties.
More than 2,200 South Koreans evacuated their homes due to the storm that toppled scores of trees, utility poles and lampposts, ripped off signboards, and damaged or flooded dozens of homes and vehicles. A woman in the southern city of Busan died after being injured by shattered window glass.
Four nuclear power reactors near Busan automatically shut down because of electricity supply issues, but no leak of radioactive materials was detected, South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
As of Thursday morning, officials have managed to restore electricity to about one-third of the 121,949 homes that lost power. The outages were mainly in southern mainland regions including Busan and the southern resort island of Jeju.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency had said officials were working urgently to minimize damage from Maysak, which was forecast to make landfall in the country’s northeastern region in the afternoon.
KCNA said buildings, roads, railways, cropland and drainage systems were examined and fishing boats were moved to safety, while “scrupulous” protective measures were applied to power stations to ensure stable power supply during the storm.
Maysak caused mostly minor damage on the Japanese island of Okinawa on Tuesday and is the second typhoon to hit the Korean Peninsula in as many weeks.
Typhoon Bavi damaged homes, buildings and crops on the peninsula last week but caused no apparent casualties.
Another storm in the Pacific was blowing north and forecast to affect northern Asia by the weekend. Tropical Storm Haishen, with sustained winds of up to 90 kph (56 mph), could gain in ferocity before slamming into Japan’s southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku before reaching the Korean Peninsula on Monday.
Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press