Death toll rises to 10 after Typhoon Hinnamnor hits South Korea

Seven of the dead were trapped in the underground carpark of an apartment complex in Pohang City, local media reported.

A collapsed building after Typhoon Hinnamnor made landfall in Pohang, South Korea, on September 6, 2022 [Yonhap via Reuters]
A collapsed building after Typhoon Hinnamnor made landfall in Pohang, South Korea, on September 6, 2022 [Yonhap via Reuters]

Ten people are reported to have died after the most powerful typhoon to hit South Korea in years battered the southern part of the country, flooding roads, and buildings and causing landslides.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said on Wednesday that 10 people had died and two remained missing as a result of Typhoon Hinnamnor, which barrelled through on Monday and Tuesday, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Seven of the dead were found in a flooded underground car park attached to an apartment complex in Pohang City in the southeast, and two other people who were also trapped in the parking lot were rescued alive, the news agency said.

The seven victims are believed to have become trapped underground when they went to move their vehicles as torrential rains flooded Pohang city, which was one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon.

“Rescuers are carrying out an operation to drain the parking garage to search for any remaining victims, but it is highly unlikely additional survivors will be discovered,” Yonhap reported.

Search and rescue operations continued in the worst affected areas on Wednesday, and authorities said two people remain missing.

One other death was confirmed in Pohang on Wednesday, and another in Gyeongju where a person was killed when a home was buried in a landslide, authorities said.

The nine fatalities were reported on Wednesday following the death of a woman in her 70s who died in Pohang after being swept away by floodwaters on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reporting from Pohang said that the area received most of the rainfall and also sustained much of the damage from the typhoon.

“Because of the amount of water here rising so quickly – where we’ve seen sadly most of the fatalities, including among a group of people it seems that were caught in an underground car park trying to retrieve their vehicles and simply got caught out by the speed of these rising waters,” he said.

Hinnamnor forced more than 4,700 people to flee their homes for safety, and it destroyed approximately 12,000 houses and buildings. Nearly 90,000 households lost power nationwide but supply had been restored to most customers by Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The typhoon follows record rain around the capital Seoul in August that caused severe flooding and led to the deaths of at least 14 people.

Four of those killed in the flooding in Seoul in August – the heaviest in more than 100 years – drowned after their basement flats were inundated with floodwater, officials said.

The victims included a disabled woman and a teenager, who were trapped by floodwater in their basement apartment.

Responding to public outrage over the deaths, Seoul Metropolitan Government responded saying it planned to get rid of the tiny subterranean dwellings – known as “banjiha” and which featured in the Oscar-winning film Parasite.

The local government said it would stop issuing permits to construct such homes while pushing to gradually phase out existing basement and semi-basement flats.

An estimated 200,000 households live in such flats, which make up about 5 percent of housing stock in Seoul, according to official figures.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies