Monday, June 27, 2011

2 rescuers, 4 others are swept away in typhoon, South Korea

Image: A section of an bridge in Chilgok, North Gyeongsang, built to commemorate fallen soldiers of the Korean War, collapsed Saturday after Typhoon Meari caused the Nakdong River to flood, undermining the bridge’s structural integrity. By Gong Jeong-sik

Powerful Typhoon Meari drenched most of Korea yesterday with strong winds and torrential rain, killing two rescue workers and collapsing a bridge. Four people also were reported missing.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency, a rescuer in Sangju, North Gyeongsang, died while trying to save an 80-year-old farmer swept away by a flooding stream near his rice paddy. Another rescue worker searching for a 3-year-old swept into a nearby river in Yeongwol, Gangwon, also apparently drowned. The farmer and the child are still missing.

A 20-year-old man in Songgye Valley, Jecheon, North Chungcheong, and a 14-year-old middle school student in Cheongju were also missing after being caught in floodwaters.

“Starting at 1 p.m., Typhoon Meari made its way across the Yellow Sea at a speed of 213 kilometers [132 miles] per hour, but did not hit the Korean Peninsula [directly],” Kim Hoe-choel, a forecaster at the Korea Meteorological Administration, said yesterday. “We expect Meari to move to the northwest of Korea, not striking the South Korean inland. It will pass Sinuiju in North Korea at about midnight and become weaker tomorrow. But Korea will still be within the typhoon’s 400-kilometer radius until [Monday] morning, so we must keep watching it.”

More rain was expected to fall in Korea, from 40 millimeters (1.5 inches) to 100 millimeters until this morning, although the winds will weaken, the state-run weather agency forecast. The typhoon will likely dissipate this morning 110 northeast of Kanggye in North Korea.

According to NEMA, 46 domestic flights were canceled yesterday. However, after 6 p.m. most flights resumed. In addition, 118 ships were ordered to stay in port yesterday. No international flights were affected. About 580 hectares (1,433 acres) of farmland in Seocheon, South Chungcheong, and 45 vinyl greenhouses in Jincheon, North Chungcheong, were submerged by flooding streams. Three houses in Andong and Yecheon, North Gyeongsang, were damaged and four houses in Chungju, North Chungcheong, were submerged. Read More