Typhoon Bolaven buffets South Korean coast | News | DW | 28.08.2012
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Typhoon Bolaven buffets South Korean coast

A strong typhoon pounded the Korean peninsula on Tuesday. At least eight people were killed and 10 hurt in South Korea as the storm barrelled toward already flood-ravaged North Korea.

The storm, named Bolaven, buffeted the west coast of South Korea with winds of up to 170 kilometers (106 miles) per hour, knocking out power to more than 200,000 homes.

According to South Korean emergency services, coast guard rescuers were able to save 10 fishermen from two Chinese ships after their boats capsized near Jeju island, about 100 kilometers south of the mainland. Five fishermen were thought to have perished. Ten crew members remain missing.

In the dramatic rescue, coast guard members in wetsuits overcame high waves by firing a line-launcher to attach ropes to one of the ships. According to AFP, the other boat broke apart.

In southern Wanju county, the public administration ministry said a 48-year-old man was killed when strong winds flipped over a shipping container, while in the southwest city of Gwangju an elderly woman was killed when a church spire fell onto her house. The public administration ministry also said another elderly woman was killed in Seocheon county on the country's west coast when she was blown off a roof.

Elsewhere, South Korea's transport ministry said that almost 250 flights, both international and domestic, had been cancelled since Monday, and that all 87 sea ferry services had been temporarily suspended. The US and South Korean military also decided to call off large-scale joint military exercises that began last week. The United States has a large military presence in South Korea.

North Korean concern

Bolaven was expected to move up the Korean peninsula coastline, where it was poised to hit North Korea late Tuesday. North Korea has already been inundated by severe floodwaters, complicating chronic food shortages among its 24 million population.

A wave breaks along a bridge over the sea off the southern port city of Busan as Typhoon Bolaven brings heavy downpours and winds to South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.

The South Korean city of Busan was hit by large waves

According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the typhoon was expected to reach North Korea's western coast before moving northeast. The report said the storm - moving at about 30 kilometers (18 miles) per hour - was expected to bring heavy rain. It also said a tidal wave was forecast to hit Hwanghae Province on the country's eastern coast.

Earlier this year, the North Korean government in a rare report acknowledging damage said floods had killed 169 people, left about 400 missing, and resulted in more than 212,000 people becoming homeless.

Another typhoon, Tembin, was also threatening the Korean peninsula. Weather officials forecast it would be some 200 kilometers west of Jeju by Friday. The storm skirted Taiwan on Tuesday, causing little initial damage. Last week, the storm triggered massive rains of up to 60 centimeters (24 inches) over a 24-hour period in the Taiwanese resort city of Hengchun.

bm/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)