By KIM TONG-HYUNG, SEOUL, South Korea (AP):- A powerful typhoon ripped through South Korea’s southern and eastern coasts with tree-snapping winds and flooding rains Thursday, knocking out power to more than 270,000 homes and leaving at least one person dead.
With winds blowing up to 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour, Typhoon Maysak was offshore east of the city of Sokcho on Thursday morning and heading toward North Korea, said South Korea’s weather agency. It expected Maysak to weaken to a tropical storm within hours.
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.
Japan’s coast guard was searching for a livestock ship carrying 42 crew members that made a distress call off a southern Japanese island in seas roughened by the typhoon. Rescuers safely plucked one crew member from the sea, but information wasn’t immediately available on the reason for the ship’s distress.
More than 2,400 South Koreans evacuated their homes due to the typhoon, which damaged or flooded dozens of homes and vehicles, ripped off signboards and toppled scores of trees, utility poles and lampposts. 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 199,400 of the 278,600 homes that lost power. The outages were mainly in southern mainland regions including Busan and the southern resort island of Jeju.
More than 950 domestic flights were canceled while rail services in some southern and eastern regions were halted due to safety concerns.
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.
AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this story from Tokyo.
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