Typhoon batters South Korea with more than 3 feet of rain and damaging winds

Swollen Han River with Seoul cityscape in background
The Han River, swollen with floodwater, flows under bridges in Seoul on Tuesday.
(Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

The most powerful typhoon to hit South Korea in years battered its southern region Tuesday, dumping nearly 3½ feet of rain, destroying roads, felling power lines, but the death toll of three could have been higher if not for early evacuations and closures of schools, officials said.

There was also greater public awareness about the storm and its risks. Typhoon Hinnamnor made landfall just weeks after heavy rains around Seoul caused flooding that killed at least 14 people.

Government officials had put the nation on high alert for days as Hinnamnor approached, warning of potentially historic destruction and putting in motion life-saving measures.


After grazing the resort island of Jeju and hitting the mainland near the port city of Busan, Hinnamnor weakened as it blew into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

South Korea’s weather agency said Hinnamnor was over the open sea about 173 miles northeast of Ulleung island, with winds weakened to 71 mph Tuesday afternoon. It was expected to be downgraded to a tropical cyclone by nighttime as it moves northeast between Russia and the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, the agency said.

However, the damage was still severe in the southern city of Pohang, where two people were found dead and at least seven others were missing after the storm submerged roads and buildings, triggered landslides and flooded a shopping mall.

At least 16 other people remain missing a day after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck a mountainous area in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Sept. 6, 2022

Cars with smashed windows and open trunks were scattered on roads like garbage. An entire two-story villa was uprooted from the ground and swept away in flash floods. Troops were deployed to assist with rescue and restoration efforts, rolling in armored vehicles through streets that had turned into chocolate-colored rivers.

Firefighters navigated flooded neighborhoods in rubber boats, rescuing people and their pets. Merchants scrambled to salvage furniture and other belongings at the famous Guryongpo outdoor market, where workers deployed excavators to clear huge piles of debris.


The rain and flooding eroded the foundations of bridges and motorways, which were often broken into chunks or blocked by fallen trees and electricity poles. Factory buildings listed, while a shipping container blew away and landed above cars in a parking lot.

“I woke up at 5 a.m. at because of the explosive rain, and I got really concerned because the water rose right up to my doorway,” Kim Seong-chang, a Pohang resident, said in an interview with JTBC. “The water was still thigh-high at 7 a.m., and those who parked their cars in the streets were in panic because their vehicles were submerged. … Other residents were bucketing out water from their homes.”

Europe is facing one of its worst droughts ever, as rivers dry up, farms go fallow and vineyards roast.

Sept. 4, 2022

The storm dumped more than 41 inches of rain in central Jeju since Sunday, where winds peaked at 96 mph. Southern and eastern mainland regions also had damage — knocked-off signboards and roofing, toppled trees, traffic signs and electricity poles, and submerged roads and parking lots.

A woman in her 70s died in Pohang after being swept away in flash floods, while another woman in her 60s was found dead in a submerged basement parking lot, where the search was continuing for five people.

Pushing through the parking lot’s neck-high waters with ropes tied to their bodies, emergency workers Tuesday night managed to pull out two people who had been trapped. President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a congratulatory message after the first survivor’s rescue, calling it a “miracle.”

In the neighboring city of Gyeongju, a woman in her 80s died after her home was buried in a landslide. In Ulsan, another southern city, a 25-year-old man was unaccounted after falling into a rain-swollen stream, according to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.

Also in Pohang, firefighters extinguished flames that damaged at least three facilities at a major steel plant operated by POSCO. A presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity during a background briefing, said officials were investigating the cause of the fires.

Local fire officials said the flames destroyed a building housing electricity equipment and damaged a separate office building and a coke factory before being put out.

The Safety Ministry said about 3,200 out of 4,500 people who had been forced to evacuate returned home Tuesday afternoon. More than 80 homes, buildings and factories were flooded or destroyed, and hundreds of roads, bridges and facilities were damaged.

More than 600 schools were closed or converted to online classes. Workers had managed to restore electricity to 78,890 of the 89,180 households that lost power.

In North Korea, state media reported “all-out efforts” to minimize damage from flooding and landslides. The Korean Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un had issued unspecified “detailed tasks” to improve the country’s disaster-response capacity, but it didn’t elaborate on the plans.

North Korea sustained serious damage from heavy rains and floods in 2020 that destroyed buildings, roads and crops, shocking the country’s already-crippled economy.