|A building structure sits atop vehicles parked at a residential zone in Pohang's Nam District, Tuesday, after Typhoon Hinnamnor pounded the port city in North Gyeongsang Province with wind and rain. Yonhap|
Super typhoon cuts electricity, floods streets, leaving 3 dead, 6 missing
By Ko Dong-hwan
Typhoon Hinnamnor veered away from the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday morning, after slamming the country's southern regions, leaving three people dead and six missing as of 10 p.m.
Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province sustained the most damage in the country. The southeastern port city saw more than 400 millimeters of heavy rain overnight. The typhoon pounded the city with wind and rain, trapping residents indoors during the critical hours.
The city's Nam District recorded more than 100 millimeters of hourly precipitation. It destroyed a weir at a local river in the district, flooding nearby agricultural fields. The country's 1st Marine Division stationed in the city even dispatched two amphibious assault vehicles and three inflatable boats to flooded parts of the city for use by local emergency workers for search and rescue work.
Despite the rescue efforts, three deaths have been reported in Pohang, while five more people remain missing. Seven residents of an apartment building went to a basement-level parking garage on Tuesday morning attempting to save their vehicles from the rising water. However, two of them were rescued later on Tuesday night, according to fire authorities. The city's emergency rescue department said they had to wait for the garage, completely flooded as of Tuesday morning, to drain out before they could start searching for the missing people. Another woman in her 60s, a resident of another apartment building, also went missing on Tuesday morning after entering an underground garage. She was found dead later that day.
Another death was confirmed on Tuesday morning in the city. A Pohang resident, 75, was found dead about an hour after she went missing.
|An amphibious assault vehicle approaches a submerged vehicle in Pohang, Tuesday, while conducting search and rescue operations to help any people trapped by the floodwaters. Courtesy of Republic of Korea Marine Corps|
Compared to the previous typhoons that have hit the country, Hinnamnor was the third-most-powerful. It follows Sarah from 1959 which recorded 951.5 hectopascals (hPa) when it made landfall in the country and Maemi from 2003 with 954 hPa. Hinnamnor recorded 955.9 when it arrived on Geoje Island, South Gyeongsang Province. The lower the pressure, the stronger the typhoon's intensity.
As Hinnamnor made landfall on Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang Province at 4:50 a.m., reports of people being isolated by floodwaters and damage to public infrastructure and private property continued throughout the morning outside Pohang as well. In Ulsan, a man, 25, went missing after falling in an overflowing local river at around 1 a.m. Cars on roads in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, were completely submerged by floodwaters, isolating people inside. A woman in her 80s was found dead in Gyeongju on Tuesday morning, buried under a heap of earth in a residential area.
In South Gyeongsang Province alone, 229 reports were made to emergency hotlines reporting damage to buildings, retaining walls and electric poles.
People nationwide suffered power outages as well. Some 100 households in Ulsan, 540 households in Daegu as well as 450 households in Miryang and 30 homes in Tongyeong, both in South Gyeongsang Province, experienced blackouts.
|A 7-Eleven store in Busan's coastal Suyeong District was destroyed by incoming waves caused by Typhoon Hinnamnor early Tuesday morning. Yonhap|
Reports of destroyed windows in apartment buildings and flooded vinyl houses in farms also inundated emergency lines in Gwangju and Daejeon, as well as the Jeolla and Chungcheong Provinces. Jeju Island saw almost 200 calls to emergency hotlines. The capital region of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province wasn't free from Hinnamnor's impact either. Strong winds knocked over a tree in Incheon's Yeonsu District, causing it to fall on a nearby bus for a cram school that had people in it on Monday afternoon, trapping them inside.
More than 2,200 people in South Gyeongsang Province evacuated their homes to escape the typhoon's possible damage to their residences. Over 600 in South Jeolla and 360 in Busan also evacuated.
More than 250 flights scheduled in 12 airports around the country were canceled due to the typhoon. Over 350 trains on 11 lines were halted on Tuesday until 3 p.m. Some 66,000 ships sought shelter away from Hinnamnor's reach and seven local harbors including those in Busan and Jeju Island barred ships from sailing.
The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said on Tuesday that Hinnamnor left the country from Ulsan, heading off through the East Sea at about 7:10 a.m. Tuesday. It was about seven hours after the typhoon reached the country, passing waters east of Jeju Island, with its atmosphere pressure reaching 945 hectopascals (hPa) at its center. It left the country behind earlier than the KMA had expected previously. It had forecast most of the country would remain under the typhoon's influential zone until late Tuesday.
|A section of Tohamsam-ro Road in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, is blocked in both directions on Tuesday following a landslide caused by Typhoon Hinnamnor. Yonhap|
By Tuesday evening, Hinnamnor had moved 560 kilometers northeast of Ulleung Island in the East Sea, and by midnight it reached a point 400 kilometers northwest of Sapporo, Japan, with its intensity lowering to that of an extratropical cyclone.
During the night that observers had considered would be the most critical and dangerous period for Korea under the latest natural threat, President Yoon Suk-yeol stayed at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul, to monitor the situation and emergency response. It was unlike the last time the country suffered serious flooding the previous month, when he clocked out and left the office early in the evening ― drawing massive criticisms for not staying at the office to keep monitoring the situation.
After KMA Administrator Yoo Hee-dong reported to Yoon in a video call that the critical period would likely last until 6 a.m. Tuesday, the president ordered local municipalities, fire departments and other government agencies monitoring the weather to share climate conditions and damage reports in real time. He also reminded Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min to monitor 24 police force divisions patrolling nationwide and facilitate their cooperation with local public workers who are more familiar with local conditions.