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(5th LD) S. Korea raises typhoon alert to highest 'serious' level as Haishen approaches

All News 22:28 September 06, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES in paras in 5, 7-8, 21)

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea raised its typhoon warning to the highest level of "serious" Sunday, as Haishen was marching toward the peninsula amid a forecast that it could directly affect the country with heavy rain and strong winds.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters upped the warning to the top level in the four-tier system at 7 p.m., as the season's 10th typhoon was expected to reach waters close to the southeastern port city of Busan on Monday morning.

In line with the warning, the authorities called for safety measures to protect people, particularly those in low-lying coastal areas, houses near streams and rivers and those vulnerable to landslides.

The authorities also requested that central and provincial governments, public and private companies flexibly adjust time for their employees to begin work to prevent possible damage during their commute.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, Haishen was travelling northward at a speed of 31 kilometers per hour over waters about 120 km west-southwest of Japan's Kagoshima prefecture, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said.

Heavy rains and strong winds are forecast across South Korea throughout Monday, it added.

Waves roar in waters off the coast of Jeju Island on Sept. 6, 2020, as Typhoon Haishen approaches the peninsula. (Yonhap)
This file photo shows citizens walking on a street amid rain and strong wind. (Yonhap)

The state weather agency said the typhoon is likely to reach an area about 270 km east of Seogwipo City on the southern resort island of Jeju at 3 a.m. Monday and waters 70 km northeast of Busan at 9 a.m.

It is expected to reach waters about 70 km east-northeast of Gangneung in Gangwon Province at 3 p.m. on Monday and an area about 110 km south-southwest of Chongjin in North Korea at 9 p.m.

President Moon Jae-in instructed the government and provincial authorities to thoroughly prepare to prevent damage from the typhoon.

"The safety of citizens must be prioritized," Moon was quoted by his spokesman, Kang Min-seok, as saying.

The president called for preventive measures, such as restricting access to coastal areas and underground roads, to avoid damage to people, particularly in regions that were battered by the previous typhoon, Maysak.

"There should not be any loophole in safety checks in industrial grounds, including port facilities, and in our measures to move ships to safe areas," he said.

KMA officials called for thorough measures against possible rain and gale damages. They also warned of high waves in southern and eastern seas as well as waters near Jeju.

The Korea Forest Service (KFS) raised the landslide alert to "seriousness," the highest in the four-tier system, for Jeju, Busan, Ulsan and the provinces of South and North Gyeongsang, Gangwon and South Jeolla.

Haishen would be the second typhoon to hit the nation in a week.

"Huge damages are expected, as the typhoon this time is forecast to be more dangerous than the previous ones that affected South Korea shortly after the end of the monsoon season," KFS chief Park Chong-ho said. "It's important to prevent damages through the preemptive evacuation of residents to an extent that could be (seen as) excessive."

Typhoon Haishen approaches the Korean Peninsula in this image provided by the National Meteorological Satellite Center. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Ministry of Environment had an emergency virtual meeting to review dam operations and other precautionary steps.

The ministry said it has secured approximately 4.3 billion tons of "flood control capacity" by releasing water from 20 multipurpose dams nationwide, which made them capable of not releasing water even in the case of an average of 270 mm of rainfall.

It has also banned the use of trails and camping sites at national parks.

With the approach of the typhoon, the Korea Railroad Corp. suspended or adjusted Monday's high-speed train services for some southeastern regions.

The typhoon also affected passenger plane operations, as 17 flights to and from Jeju were canceled on Monday.


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