Typhoon wreaks devastation along South Korea coast

Seven drown in flooded parking lot as death toll rises: 32 cultural heritage sites damaged

By: News Desk
Published: 10:35 AM, 8 Sep, 2022
Strong waves hit the coast as Typhoon Hinnamnor lashes South Korea.
Caption: Strong waves hit the coast as Typhoon Hinnamnor lashes South Korea.
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The strongest cyclonic storm this year - Typhoon Hinnamnor - has struck South Korea causing damage to cities on the southern coast.

Fearing landslides and floods, officials evacuated about thousands of people ahead of the storm, which made landfall in the island city of Geoje. It then churned at a 54km/hr pace northwards, whipping up surf and driving heavy rains and floods. However, the typhoon made a quick exit but still left a trail of destruction and deaths behind.

At least 10 people have died and thousands have been displaced after Typhoon Hinnamnor tore through South Korea’s southern industrial hubs.

Seven of the deaths were reported from one submerged parking lot under a residential complex in the country’s southeastern port city of Pohang, according to a report from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on Wednesday.

The seven people had become trapped by rising waters while attempting to move their vehicles, according to the ministry report.

Local broadcaster YTN showed footage of a wrecked car being pulled out of an underground garage where muddy waters blocked its entrance.

Another person died after being buried in a house hit by a landslide in Gyeongju and two people remain missing from the powerful typhoon.

The casualties could rise as rescue operations continue, with the military mobilizing amphibious vehicles.

The powerful storm hit with wind speeds equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 154 kilometers per hour, or a little over 95 miles per hour.

The storm made landfall around 4:50 am local time, battering the southeastern industrial cities of Pohang, Gyeongju and Ulsan with strong winds and heavy rain, before leaving the peninsula at around 7:10 am local time, authorities told CNN.

Some 2,900 people have been evacuated, mostly in the south of the country, and more than 66,000 homes experienced power outages, with 45% of service restored as of 3 p.m. local time.

The typhoon forced hundreds of flight cancellations, suspension of business operations and school closings.

South Korean steel-making company POSCO reported a temporary byproduct gas release at its Pohang plant due to a power outage caused by the typhoon.

Shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries based in Ulsan said there were no major losses though some parts of its factory were submerged. Some of its ships were sent to the west coast to head off damage and would return on Thursday.

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A spokesperson for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering said there were no incidents at its shipyard in nearby Changwon so far, and it halted production on Tuesday morning as planned.

Typhoon warnings were mostly lifted across South Korea, but President Yoon Suk-yeol urged officials to take precautions until the typhoon is completely gone, his spokesperson said.

The neighboring North Korea also braced for damage from the typhoon, with leader Kim Jong Un presiding over a two-day meeting on disaster prevention work and releasing water from a dam near its border with South Korea.

South Korea has repeatedly urged the North to give notice before releasing water from the dam as it could result in flooding downstream but Pyongyang has remained unresponsive.

32 cultural heritage sites damaged

A total of 32 cases of heritage site damage was reported as of Wednesday evening in the aftermath of typhoon Hannamnor, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration.

Seokguram Grotto and the Bulguksa Temple site in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, are among that sites that suffered major damage.

Historical sites accounted for 24 cases, followed by three Treasures, two National Folklore Cultural Heritage, and one National Treasure, Natural Monument, and Registered Cultural Heritage each.

By region, 16 cases were reported in North Gyeongsang Province, eight in South Gyeongsang Province, four in Gyeonggi Province, and two each in Seoul and Jeju Island.

Roof tiles fell off of the Geungnakjeon, the main hall of Bulguksa Temple, where the Amitabha Buddha is enshrined. Several trees at the compound were also knocked down.

The entrance to the Seokguram Grotto, a National Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was partially destroyed, along with the front yard of its administrative office which also sustained damage. Visitors are currently restricted from entering the area.

Part of the surrounding stone pillars and roads to the Gyeongju Girimsa Temple's Daejeokgwangjeon that enshrines Vairocana Buddha were washed away.

Pine trees near another Treasure, the Baedong Stone Buddha Triad, were knocked down.

The royal tombs in Gyeongju and Gimhae were also hit by the typhoon.

The stylobate and shaft base of the tomb of King Wonseong (785-798) of Silla in Gyeongju collapsed while a heavy mudslide washed off part of Hwangnyongsa temple's soil.

In Gimhae, a willow tree next to the Royal Tomb of King Suro who founded the Garak Kingdom in 42 A.D. fell down while some 10 meters of the walking trail of Bunsanseong Fortress collapsed.

The CHA has put into effect emergency repair plans to prevent further damage to heritage sites, with local governments working to restore minor damages.