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Khanun is blowing high winds and heavy rains to South Korea, where thousands evacuated the coast

BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials evacuated thousands of coastal residents Thursday as a powerful tropical storm began to batter the country’s southern regions.

The Korean Meteorological Administration said Khanun will make landfall soon and is likely to pound the land with intense rains and winds as he slowly plows through the Korean Peninsula for hours, his eyes past the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where half of its 51 million people live. of South Korea lives. The storm’s strength is expected to wane as it moves into North Korea early Friday, but forecasters said the greater Seoul area would still feel its strength until Friday afternoon.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has called on officials to be aggressive with disaster prevention and evacuation measures, while highlighting the dangers of the storm, which comes just weeks after heavy rainfall that hit central and southern regions caused flash floods and landslides resulting in deaths. least 47 people.

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As of 8:30 a.m., Khanun was passing waters 40 kilometers (25 mi) south of Tongyeong port on the mainland, with maximum winds of 126 km/h (78 mph) while moving at a speed of 22 km/h (13 mph). ).

Southern regions began to feel the storm’s full force, with winds reaching 126 km/h (78 mph) in Busan. The storm since Wednesday has dumped about 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain in some areas in the southern resort town of Jeju and the southern mainland city of Changwon.

More than 10,000 people, mostly in the southern regions of the country, were ordered to evacuate their homes on Thursday morning, the Interior and Security Ministry said. About 340 flights were grounded and nearly 400 highways were closed. Ferry services were halted as more than 60,000 fishing vessels evacuated to port. Authorities advised schools to take a day off or delay their opening hours, warning of flooding, landslides and massive waves caused by what forecasters describe as typhoon-force.

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At a disaster response meeting on Thursday, Secretary of the Interior and Security Lee Sang-min ordered officials to severely restrict access to riverside paths, low-lying coastal roads and underpass tunnels and to quickly evacuate residents in high-risk areas who live in basement-level homes or homes in near mountains.

“If the storm moves into the country as forecasters predict, no region will be safe,” Lee said.

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or injuries.

Khanun’s arrival in South Korea came after the storm roamed southern Japan for more than a week. In Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu Island, 12,000 homes were without power on Wednesday, while more than 1,800 people have sought shelter in nearby community centers, hotels and other facilities.

Seven people were injured, two seriously, after falling or being struck by flying objects. Regional train operations were halted, as were flights and ferry services connecting the prefecture to other Japanese cities.

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In Kyushu and nearby Shikoku Island, up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain is expected Thursday evening, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which warned residents of mudslides, flooding and strong winds.


Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea.

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