Typhoon Khanun Turns Deadly in South Korea

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As Typhoon Khanun continued to pummel South Korea, the floods it has caused left one person dead and cut off power to 40,000 households on Thursday, adding to the toll of an abnormally wet and deadly storm season in the region.

The storm, advancing north over the Korean Peninsula, flooded highways, grounded hundreds of flights and forced some 14,000 people to evacuate. A day earlier, it had dropped up to 23 inches of rain in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, injuring at least 14 people.

By Thursday evening, Khanun had dumped up to 15 inches of rain on parts of South Korea after making landfall on Geoje Island, off the southeastern coast, at 9:20 a.m.

Forecasts suggested that the eye of the storm was likely to pass over the Seoul area, home to more than half of South Korea’s population, around 9 p.m., before entering North Korea overnight. Downpours were expected to continue in Seoul through Friday night.

A man in Daegu, a city in South Korea’s southeast, drowned in floodwaters, a spokesman for the Fire Department there said. The eye of the storm, around which the most intense winds are generally found, passed through Daegu, where about 2.4 million people live, Thursday afternoon.

Khanun was advancing north at about 12 miles per hour on Thursday evening, South Korean meteorologists said. Forecasters continued to warn that the storm’s relatively slow pace would result in substantial precipitation. Parts of South Korea were expected to record about 20 inches of rain on Thursday. Officials warned residents of the danger of landslides and floods nationwide.

Khanun had maximum sustained winds of 46 m.p.h., with gusts of 58 m.p.h., in South Korea on Thursday evening, the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii said. On the five-category wind scale that American meteorologists use to measure hurricanes, Khanun would count as a tropical storm. It was expected to continue to lose strength as it moved over land.

Another tropical cyclone, Typhoon Lan, is approaching the region from the Pacific Ocean. Lan was about 740 miles southeast of Japan on Thursday and was expected to approach Honshu, the country’s main island, next week. Current winds of 81 m.p.h. were forecast to strengthen to 104 m.p.h. over the weekend, according to the typhoon warning center.

South Korea has already been battered by an unusually harsh monsoon season. Last month, at least 47 people were killed, and 35 others injured, by nearly three weeks of some of the heaviest rainfall in years. Fourteen of the dead had been trapped in a flooded highway underpass.

Other East Asian countries have also had a deadly wet season. In Japan, at least six people died in Kyushu after the island was hit by what officials called “the heaviest rain ever experienced” in the region. An earlier typhoon, Doksuri, left at least 33 people dead in Beijing last week.

Khanun also left at least two people dead, 100 others injured and thousands of households without power last week in Okinawa, Japan, the country’s southernmost prefecture. At the time, the storm was moving northwest toward China, but over the weekend it charted a zigzag path over Japan’s southern islands, before doglegging north on Tuesday.

As the typhoon approached Japan and South Korea, both countries issued landslide and flood warnings and evacuation orders to residents. In South Korea, tens of thousands of teenagers who had gathered for the 25th World Scout Jamboree, and who had already been dealing with a brutal heat wave, finished evacuating their campsite on Wednesday.

Hikari Hida contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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