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Twelve dead, 10 missing as typhoon pounds S. Korea

Typhoon Bolaven, the strongest to hit South Korea in almost a decade, moves to North Korea; 12 killed, 10 missing; flights grounded, ferry services and schools suspended

AFP , Tuesday 28 Aug 2012
Typhoon Bolaven
High waves pound against a seawall in Okinawa prefecture in Southern Japan (Photo: AP)
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Twelve people were killed and 10 were missing after a strong typhoon pounded South Korea Tuesday, uprooting trees, sinking ships and cutting power to almost 200,000 homes.

By early evening Typhoon Bolaven -- the strongest to hit the South for almost a decade -- had moved to North Korea, which is still struggling to recover from deadly floods earlier this summer.

Hundreds of flights in the South were grounded, ferry services were suspended and schools in Seoul and several other areas were closed.

Bolaven left a trail of death and damage in southwestern and south-central regions of the country, although it was little felt in central parts of Seoul.

Off the southern island of Jeju, the storm drove two Chinese fishing ships aground early Tuesday, sparking a dramatic rescue operation.

Coastguards wearing wetsuits struggled through high waves and then used a line-launcher to fire ropes to one ship, a coastguard spokesman said. The other boat broke apart.

Rescuers saved 12 people while six swam ashore, but 10 crew members are still missing, the spokesman said. Five bodies were recovered.

In the southern county of Wanju, a 48-year-old man was killed by a shipping container flipped over by gale-force winds, the public administration ministry said.

An elderly woman was crushed to death when a church spire collapsed onto her house in the southwestern city of Gwangju, while another elderly woman was blown off the roof of her home in the western county of Seocheon.

A workman fell from the roof of a hospital in the southwestern port of Mokpo. At Imsil county in North Jeolla province, a 51-year-old man died while clearing toppled trees.

In Yeongkwang county west of Gwangju, a 72-year-old man suffered fatal head injuries when his house wall collapsed. At Buyeo city in South Chungcheong province, a woman aged 75 died after falling due to strong winds.

A 77,000-tonne bulk carrier broke in two off the southeastern port of Sacheon but no casualties were reported, the public administration ministry said.

The transport ministry said all 87 sea ferry services had been halted. A total of 247 flights -- 183 domestic and 64 international -- have been cancelled since Monday.

The typhoon -- packing winds of 144 kilometres (90 miles) per hour at one time -- brought heavy rain and strong winds to southern and western areas. It toppled street lights and signs, shattered windows, uprooted trees and tore off shop signs.

The National Emergency Management Agency said 197,751 homes in Jeju and the southwest and south-central regions lost power.

A total of 83 people, mostly in the southwest, were evacuated from their homes and taken to shelters. Some 21 homes were damaged.

The US and South Korean armed forces called a temporary halt to a large-scale joint military exercise that began last week.

After sweeping up the Yellow Sea to the west of South Korea, Bolaven made landfall in North Korea in the early evening.

The impoverished nation is already struggling to recover from a devastating summer drought, followed by floods which killed 169 people, left about 400 missing and made 212,000 people homeless, according to official figures.

Weather officials said Typhoon Tembin was also threatening the Korean peninsula, and was forecast to be some 200 kilometres west of Jeju early Frida

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