A vehicle is damaged by fallen signboard from a building during Typhoon Lingling in Seoul on Saturday. Associated Press
One of the most powerful typhoons to ever hit South Korea swept along the country’s coast on Saturday, toppling trees, grounding planes and causing at least three deaths before moving on to North Korea.
Typhoon Lingling knocked out power to more than 127,000 homes across South Korea, including on the southern island of Jeju, which was lashed by the storm overnight, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
After hitting Jeju, the storm remained offshore as it moved up South Korea’s west coast on Saturday morning before making landfall in North Korea in the afternoon.
A 75-year-old woman in the central South Korean town of Boryeong was killed after strong winds blew her off her feet and crashed her into a wall 30 metres away, South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
A 39-year-old was killed in the western city of Incheon after being crushed by a collapsed wall at a hospital parking lot, while a 61-year-old Chinese national died in the border town of Paju after being hit by a blown-off roof tile.
The South Korean government said at least 10 people were being treated for injuries, including an elderly couple from Boryeong who were injured after steel scaffolding collapsed on their home.
More than 200 flights were grounded at airports nationwide, while 38 people were forced to evacuate from their flooded homes in Gwangju, a city near Seoul.
Ten cars were damaged in the southern town of Namwon when a roof plate blew off an apartment building and crashed into a parking lot.
A similar incident in the eastern city of Wonju left five vehicles destroyed. A large spire was knocked off a church in a commercial district in Seoul.
South Korea’s weather agency said the storm was moving north at 48 kilometres per hour Saturday evening while passing over North Korea.
Its strength was weakening, with winds measured up to 115 kilometres per hour, according to the agency.
Lingling packed winds of 196 kilometres per hour at around 6:30 a.m. on South Korea’s southern coast, making the typhoon the fifth strongest to hit the country since 1959.
Residents in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang were seen using umbrellas to shield themselves from wind and rain while struggling to walk through wet streets.