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(6th LD) Typhoon Tapah lashes S. Korea with strong winds, heavy rains

National 23:11 September 22, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with new info in paras 2-8)

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- Typhoon Tapah lashed southern parts of South Korea on Sunday, with strong winds and heavy rains blamed for the death of one person and several injuries, as well as the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

The powerful typhoon was some 95 kilometers southeast of Busan, traveling at a speed of 57 km per hour, as of 10 p.m., according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA). Busan was the closest point on land to the storm.

This year's 17th typhoon packed wind gusts of 104 kph with an atmospheric pressure of 980 hectopascals at its center.

"The typhoon weakened as it entered the Straits of Korea," the KMA said. "Alert levels will be downgraded in the coming hours."

The typhoon is expected to travel some 270 km northeast of South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo at around 9 a.m. on Monday.

As the typhoon approached the country earlier in the day, the interior and safety ministry upgraded the weather alert level to "vigilance" from "attention" Saturday as the typhoon was expected to seriously affect the country's southern region.

TV footage showed a reporter at Jeju's port of Seogwipo unable to stand still due to powerful winds.

Wild waves and strong winds pummel Haeundae Beach in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan on Sept. 22, 2019, as Typhoon Tapah approaches South Korea. (Yonhap)

Parts of Jeju had received 752 millimeters of rain and Sancheong County in South Gyeongsang Province had reported 277 mm of rainfall as of 6 p.m., the weather agency said.

In Busan, causalities were reported due to wind gusts.

An old two-story house collapsed Saturday, killing a 72-year-old woman who lived on the first floor.

A 69-year-old motorcycle rider was receiving treatment after colliding with a streetlamp that fell down due to strong winds early Sunday. A 44-year-old man hurt his head after being hit by the roof of a bicycle storage unit that was blown off by winds.

The large glass window of a building in Busan was shattered by strong winds and fell on the sidewalk below. But there were no reported casualties.

Some 200 households also suffered a power failure Saturday night as a makeshift installation at a construction site hit an electric cable when it fell down due to gusts.

This photo shows an old two-story house that collapsed in the southeastern port city of Busan on Sept. 21, 2019, killing a 72-year-old woman who lived on the first floor. (Yonhap)

Due to the strong wind, 248 flights were cancelled in 11 airports across the country, with 100 shipping routes closed.

But flights gradually returned to normal operations on Jeju Island as the typhoon made its way northeast. Eastar Jet Flight ZE225 arrived at Jeju International Airport at 7 p.m., according to aviation officials.

"Passengers are advised to make sure their flights remain on schedule before leaving for airports," a transport ministry official said.

The KMA called for thorough preparation for the typhoon in coastal and inland areas as serious damage is expected.

"Jeju is expected to be under the influence of the typhoon until Sunday night," a weather agency official said. "It is forecast to affect the southern region and the East Sea until tomorrow morning."

Palm trees sway from strong winds on South Korea's southern island of Jeju on Sept. 22, 2019, as Typhoon Tapah approaches the country. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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