South Korea closes schools, halts flights as typhoon nears

Typhoon Hinnamnor has already brought heavy rain to southern cities and is expected to make landfall on Tuesday near Busan.

A giant wave crashes against the coast of Jeju island with the top of a lighthouse visible behind
Huge waves crash onto the shore on Jeju Island as Typhoon Hinnamnor approaches South Korea [Yonhap via Reuters]

South Korea has closed schools and cancelled flights, and some businesses suspended operations as Typhoon Hinnamnor draws near.

The storm is expected to be one of the strongest ever to make landfall in the country and is predicted to hit the coast around southeastern Busan, South Korea’s second-biggest city, on Tuesday morning, the Yonhap news agency reported citing the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA).

Heavy rain and strong winds were already pounding the southern coast on Monday, with the typhoon travelling northwards at a speed of 24km/h (15 mph). According to KMA’s forecast, Hinnamnor will move towards the northern Japanese island of Sapporo.

President Yoon Suk-yeol said he would be on emergency standby, a day after ordering authorities to put all efforts into minimising damage from the typhoon, which has been classified as “very strong”, the second-highest level for South Korea.

“Very strong winds and heavy rains are expected across the country through to Tuesday due to the typhoon, with very high waves expected in the coastal region along with storm and tsunami,” the KMA said.

South Korea classifies typhoons in four categories – normal, strong, very strong, super strong – and Hinnamnor is expected to reach the country as a “very strong” typhoon, according to the KMA. Typhoons under that classification have a maximum sustained wind speed of 49 metres per second, Yonhap said.

Warnings have been issued for the southern island of Jeju as well as a number of southern cities in addition to Busan, which were inundated with heavy rain over the weekend.

No casualties have been reported so far, although more than 100 people have been evacuated and at least 11 facilities have been damaged by floods.

Hinnamnor is South Korea’s 11th typhoon this year.

At least nine people were killed and thousands of homes damaged after the capital Seoul was submerged in record-breaking floods last month.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies