Tropical storm causes flooding, evacuations in South Korea after hitting Japan

SEOUL/TOKYO, Aug 10 (Reuters) – More than 10,000 people in flooded areas were evacuated and schools closed as Tropical Storm Kanun, which has battered southern Japan for the past week, made landfall on the peninsula on Thursday.

Ganun, downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm, made landfall on the southeast coast and was moving toward the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Cannon could also hit North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and state media there reported that the military and ruling party had been ordered to take flood mitigation measures and save crops.

In South Korea, about 350 flights and 410 train routes have been canceled and more than 10,000 people have been evacuated, the interior ministry said. No casualties were reported.

The storm brought 60 mm (2.36 inches) of rain per hour in some east coast cities and maximum wind speeds of 126 kilometers per hour (78 mph) in the southeastern port city of Busan, the weather agency said.

Ganun was passing over South Korea’s central province of North Chungcheong as of 16:30 pm (0730 GMT) when it picked up speed as it moved northward at 31 kph (19 mph) toward the greater Seoul area.

“I worry that people living in low-lying areas or their livelihoods from farming and fishing will be affected,” said Kim Wi-jeong, a 33-year-old office worker who lives in the capital.

Most schools were closed for summer vacation, but nearly half of those offering summer classes, about 1,600, were closed or switched to distance learning because of the storm, the Education Ministry said. In the eastern coastal province of Gangwon, some schools were affected by floods and landslides.

The storm added to the misery of the 37,000 youth attending the ill-fated World Scout Jamboree. Having endured the heat last week, they were moved to safer places on Tuesday as their camp was in the path of the storm.

The country is still recovering from last month’s heavy monsoon rains, which killed more than 40 people, including 14 in a flooded tunnel.

Lee Hyun-ho, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Kongju National University, said Ganun was the first typhoon to cross the Korean Peninsula directly. He said the increasing warming of the ocean surface has made it more powerful.

“As temperatures rise, storms can gain more energy. So we may see more strong hurricanes in the future,” Lee said.

Heavy rain was still falling in parts of western Japan thanks to the storm’s moist air, and some areas were well above normal for August last week. One city recorded 985 mm (38.78 inches) as of Thursday morning.

Another storm, Typhoon Lan, approached the Ogasawara Islands, about 1,000 km (621 miles) south of Tokyo, late Wednesday.

Although the storm’s path is uncertain, it could affect the Tokyo area by the end of the week, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Bad weather hits in the middle of Obon, Japan’s main summer holiday, and many people leave the big cities and return to their hometowns.

Typhoon Kanun brought heavy rain to southern parts of Japan and will continue towards South Korea and make landfall on Thursday.

Elaine Lies in Tokyo and Hyeonhee Shin and Minwoo Park in Seoul; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Ed Davies & Simon Cameron-Moore

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