Typhoon Haishen threatens Korea after battering Japan

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korea hunkered down as Typhoon Haishen arrived on the shores of its southern peninsula on Monday, after the powerful storm battered Japan’s southern islands but appeared to pass through without major damage or casualties.

The storm, carrying top sustained winds of up to 126 km (78 miles) per hour, was headed north from a southern city of Ulsan, after landing on a nearby shore on Monday morning, South Korea’s weather agency said.

High winds have already cut power to almost 5,000 households in the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, including the resort island of Jeju, which has reported more than 473 mm (19 inches) of rainfall since Saturday.

Officials have evacuated almost 1,000 people, while more than 300 flights across 10 airports, including Jeju International Airport, have been cancelled. Entries to national parks and some national train services have been suspended, the country’s safety ministry added.

In Japan, around 440,000 homes in the southwestern Kyushu region remained without power on Monday morning after the storm passed through, public broadcaster NHK reported. It added that 32 people were injured, including a woman who fell down a flight of stairs in the dark and four people who sustained cuts after the glass windows of an evacuation centre were blown in.

Almost 2 million people had been ordered to evacuate the region, which was still recovering from heavy rains and flooding in July that killed 83 people.

Typhoon Haishen comes just days after Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean peninsula, leaving at least two dead and thousands without power.

North Korea, which bore the brunt of both Maysak and Typhoon Bavi a week earlier, is also in Haishen’s trajectory with the storm expected to draw near the port city of Chongjin late Monday.

Live footage on state TV, a rarity that has now been broadcast for three weeks, showed trees shaking and waves rising in Tongchon county in Gangwon province bordering the South. The state broadcaster reported that all Tongchon residents had been evacuated.

North Korea’s agriculture sector is particularly vulnerable to severe weather, and this summer’s storms and floods have raised concerns over the country’s tenuous food situation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday toured coastal areas hit by Maysak, and ordered party members to join the recovery effort.

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