Typhoon slams into South Korea, killing 4 and delaying flights and suspending train service

By Sangwon Yoon, AP
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Typhoon suspends SKorean flights, trains, kills 4

SEOUL, South Korea — Typhoon Kompasu struck South Korea on Thursday, killing at least four people and toppling trees, streetlights and scaffolding in what was called the strongest storm to hit the Seoul area in 15 years.

Powerful gusts knocked over power lines, cutting off electricity to tens of thousands of homes and forcing airports to cancel or delay more than 60 international flights, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

Streets in Seoul were littered with tree branches. Some parked cars were wrecked by construction scaffolding knocked over by the storm.

Service on two Seoul subway lines and five railway routes was suspended, NEMA officials said.

An 80-year-old man died after being hit by a roof tile and a 37-year-old businessman was killed by a falling tree branch on his way to work. Two other people were also found dead in similar typhoon-related incidents later Thursday, NEMA official Park Byung-chul said.

The agency was examining whether the death of a 75-year-old man who was electrocuted while examining a transformer was related to the typhoon, Park said. At least four people were injured by broken glass, according to the agency.

Elementary and middle schools in the capital were ordered to delay the start of classes by two hours, while all public and private kindergartens were closed for the day, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said.

The storm caused at least 10 billion won ($8.3 million) in damage to a soccer stadium in Incheon, west of Seoul, stadium officials said.

Power was out at more than 60,000 homes along South Korea’s west coast, officials said.

Kompasu, the Japanese word for “compass,” landed on Ganghwa Island, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) west of Seoul, early Thursday morning, officials said.

The storm was expected to leave the Korean peninsula by evening, but more than three inches (80 millimeters) of rain could fall in Seoul and surrounding areas through Friday, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

The typhoon also caused torrential rains and heavy gusts throughout North Korea, the country’s state media reported. It didn’t say whether there were any fatalities or provide damage estimates.

Last month, floods swamped farmland, houses and public buildings in North Korea’s northwestern city of Sinuiju and adjacent areas and displaced more than 23,000 people, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Earlier this week, South Korea’s Red Cross offered North Korea relief aid worth 10 billion won (US$8.3 million).

will not be displayed