SEOUL • A typhoon passed along South Korea’s coast yesterday, toppling trees, grounding aircraft and causing at least three deaths before making landfall in North Korea.
A 75-year-old woman in the central town of Boryeong was killed when strong winds from Typhoon Lingling blew her off her feet and crashed her into a wall 30m away.
A 38-year-old was killed in the western city of Incheon after being crushed by a collapsed wall at a hospital parking lot. And a 61-year-old Chinese national died in the border town of Paju after being hit by a blown-off roof tile.
South Korea’s government said that at least 10 people were being treated for injuries, including an elderly couple from Boryeong who were injured when steel scaffolding collapsed on their home.
The storm knocked out power to more than 127,000 homes nationwide, including on the southern island of Jeju, which was hit by the typhoon overnight, South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
The storm stayed offshore as it moved up South Korea’s west coast yesterday morning. It made landfall in North Korea in the afternoon.
South Korea’s national weather agency said that the storm was moving north at 49kmh with winds of up to 133kmh.
Residents in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang were seen using umbrellas to shield themselves from the wind and rain while struggling to walk through wet streets.
In South Korea, the storm toppled trees and street lamps, blew signboards off buildings, and damaged traffic signs across the mainland and Jeju.
More than 120 flights were grounded at airports nationwide.
Traffic to Incheon International Airport, one of Asia’s biggest transport hubs, was disrupted by the closure of its gateway bridge and a power failure on a commuter rail network linking the airport with Seoul.
The storm could inflict more serious damage as it passes through land in North Korea.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said leader Kim Jong Un had convened an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss disaster prevention efforts and scolded officials for being “helpless against the typhoon, unaware of its seriousness”. Mr Kim called for his military to drive national efforts to minimise damage from the typhoon, which he said would be an enormous struggle that will require the entire country to step up, the report said.
North Korea, which suffers from severe food shortages, focused on protecting crops and preventing damage to dykes, dams and reservoirs, KCNA said. Officials were also moving residents in areas vulnerable to flooding, and deploying “watchmen” to monitor bridges, buildings and houses.