SEOUL, Sept 17, 2012 (AFP) - Typhoon Sanba pummelled South Korea on Monday, uprooting trees, shutting down flights and ferry services and unleashing torrential rains that left at least one person dead in a landslide.
The third major typhoon to hit the Korean peninsula in two months, Sanba made landfall in the southern port of Yeosu shortly before midday (0300 GMT), packing winds of around 137 kilometres (85 miles) per hour. Heavy rains across the country triggered landslides that killed a 53-year-old woman in the southeastern county of Seongju and injured two people in nearby Gyeongju city, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Across the country more than 1,180 people were forced to evacuate their homes, while 507,000 households experienced power outages. The typhoon pounded the South Korean island of Jeju overnight Sunday after crossing southwestern Japan where it claimed one life and knocked out power to 100,000 homes. Severe storm alerts issued in southern regions earlier on Monday were expanded to the whole of South Korea in the afternoon, with flood warnings in some coastal areas.
But the Korea Meteorological Administration said the typhoon later lost strength and veered into the East Sea. It is expected to make landfall near the border of North Korea and Russia on Tuesday and gradually fade. President Lee Myung-Bak earlier urged officials to mobilise "all possible resources" to limit the impact on farming communities and farm produce prices ahead of festivities for the national Chuseok holiday at the end of the month. As the typhoon made landfall, powerful winds uprooted large trees, ripped away business hoardings and advertising billboards and knocked over traffic lights. Numerous train services were suspended or delayed due to landslides. The typhoon's power was felt in the capital Seoul where strong winds and driving rain caused the cancellation of all first-round matches at the WTA Korea Open tennis tournament. More than 340 flights, including 73 international services, were cancelled, while all ferry services were suspended nationwide, the transport ministry said, adding 2,000 ships had been taken out of the storm's path. Thousands of residents in areas deemed vulnerable were taken to shelters or advised to evacuate while schools remained closed in many areas. Major dams across the country discharged water to control their water levels and all national parks were declared off-limits as a precautionary measure.
Typhoons Bolaven and Tembin, which struck the peninsula in late August, left more than 20 people dead in the South, damaging farmland and hundreds of houses and causing power cuts that affected millions of homes. North Korea's state media said Bolaven -- the strongest typhoon to hit the peninsula for almost a decade -- killed 59 people and left more than 26,000 people homeless.