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One Dead as Tropical Storm Khanun Causes Floods, Evacuations in S Korea

South Korean authorities evacuated more than 10,000 people and closed schools in flood-hit areas as Tropical Storm Khanun swept over the peninsula and left at least one person dead.

Having pounded southern Japan over the past week, Khanun was downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm before making landfall on the southeast coast on Thursday and was heading to the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Khanun could also strike North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and state media there reported that the military and the ruling party had been ordered to prepare flood-mitigation measures and salvage crops.

In South Korea, some 350 flights and 410 train routes were cancelled, and more than 10,000 people were moved to safety, the interior ministry said.

Among the areas of South Korea hardest hit by Khanun was the southern inland city of Daegu, where rescue workers navigated a submerged village in rubber boats, looking for residents who might have been left behind.

A 67-year-old man who was found unconscious near a bloated stream was later pronounced dead at a hospital, according to Lee Ga-yeon, an official at the Daegu fire department.

The city’s emergency workers were searching for at least another person who was reported missing, Lee said.

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Video Duration 01 minutes 38 seconds01:38Typhoon Khanun: Thousands without power, flights halted in Japan, S Korea

The storm brought up to 6 mm (2.36 inches) of rain per hour in some east coast towns and maximum wind speeds of 126 kilometres per hour (78 miles per hour) in the southeastern port city of Busan, the weather agency said.

Khanun was passing South Korea’s central province of North Chungcheong as of 4:30pm (07:30 GMT), picking up a little speed as it moved northwards at 31km/h (19mph) towards the greater Seoul area.

“I’m worried that people living in lowlands or make a living by farming and fishing would suffer,” said Kim Wi-jeong, a 33-year-old office worker living in the capital.

Most schools were shut for the summer holidays, but of those offering summer classes nearly half, about 1,600, either closed or switched to remote learning because of the storm, the education ministry said. Floods and landslides hit some schools in the eastern coastal province of Gangwon.

The storm compounded the misery for 37,000 youngsters attending the ill-starred World Scout Jamboree. Having endured a heatwave last week, they were moved to safer accommodation on Tuesday as their campsite lay in the path of the storm.

The country is still recovering from heavy monsoon rain last month, which left more than 40 people dead, including 14 in a flooded tunnel.

Lee Hyunho, a professor of atmospheric science at Kongju National University, said Khanun was the first storm to pass directly over the Korean peninsula. He said increasing sea surface temperatures had made it more powerful.

“The more the temperatures rise, the greater the energy that storms can get. So we will likely see even stronger typhoons in the future,” Lee said.

Fed by humid air from the storm, heavy rain was still battering parts of western Japan, with some areas getting well over the normal for August in the past week. One town had recorded 985mm (38.78 inches) as of Thursday morning.

Another storm, Typhoon Lan, was approaching near the Ogasawara Islands, about 1,000km (621 miles) south of Tokyo, late on Wednesday.

Though the storm’s path was uncertain, the Japan Meteorological Agency said it could affect the Tokyo area by the end of the weekend.

The bad weather is striking in the middle of Obon, Japan’s main summer holiday, when many people leave big cities to return to their home towns.

Source: Al Jazeera