Monday, August 27, 2012

Korea was hammered by the powerful Typhoon Bolaven Tuesday morning, with power supply cut to tens of thousands of households nationwide and strong winds and torrential downpours causing massive property damage and flight cancellations, officials said.

The most powerful storm in a decade toppled trees, street lights and power lines, cutting power to more than 50,000 households, including 33,105 households on the southern island of Jeju, as of 7 a.m., the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

Two Chinese fishing boats with 34 crew members aboard capsized Tuesday in waters off Jeju Island's southern port of Seogwipo, according to the Coast Guard. Six people were rescued but 28 others remain missing.

Seven apartment complexes in regions in South Jeolla province and Jeju Island were destroyed, while five apartment buildings in Jeju Island were inundated, forcing 15 people to evacuate, the NEMA said.

Further property damages have been reported with four cars in Jeju's Seogwipo, the first area of the country struck by the typhoon, destroyed and a church steeple collapsed, the agency added.

At 9 a.m., a previously issued typhoon advisory was upgraded to a typhoon warning in Seoul, home to about 10 million people, as the storm is forecast to pass along the port of Incheon, west of the capital city, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

All elementary and secondary schools in Seoul were closed, while almost other municipal and provincial governments across the country have also enforced temporary school closures.

All domestic flights from Jeju International Airport and Seoul's Gimpo Airport have been canceled for the day, and Incheon International Airport, the gateway to Seoul, has also suspended all flights scheduled for Monday afternoon.

President Lee Myung-bak held an emergency video conference with officials from the state weather agency and local governments overseeing regions in the typhoon's course and instructed local governments to keep their guard high against Typhoon Bolaven and take every possible step to minimize damage.

Lee told officials to make sure that there won't be human casualties by evacuating those living in areas prone to flooding and landslides, and to try to minimize damage to crops and other agricultural products ahead of the harvest season, the spokesman said.

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