Republic of Korea

Massive Typhoon Maemi pounds South Korea

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The most powerful typhoon ever to strike South Korea claimed more than 100 lives and left 25,000 homeless when it roared ashore over the weekend, leveling buildings, tossing giant cranes and triggering widespread flooding.
Typhoon Maemi, or "cicada" in Korean, tore into southern portions of the peninsula Friday night (Sept. 12) with record winds of 134 mph that demolished everything in its path before heading out to sea Saturday.

Thousands of rescue workers and soldiers were searching for at least 24 people listed as missing and helping to repair downed electric and telephone poles and washed out roads. In the southern city of Masan, rescue teams tried for days to reach a dozen people trapped in the basement of a collapsed karaoke bar. Eight bodies have been found so far.

"The death toll is likely to rise further as the rescue teams still report dead bodies floating on the rivers and the oceans," Shin Sang-yong, an official at the council told Reuters.

Image Courtesy of the BBC The South Korea's main port city of Pusan is already reporting tens of millions of dollars in damages, including a massive cruise ship that tidal waves tossed onto a popular beach. Local television footage also showed giant container cranes twisted into pretzel shapes, a row of shredded seaside shops, overturned cars floating down streets turned into rivers and buckled roads and bridges, according to Reuters.

"The typhoon landed when the tide was full, causing even bigger damages," Choi Myong-sun, a fisherman, told local television. "The typhoon was so strong that our preventive steps were not useful at all."

At least 82 vessels sank amid the monstrous ocean swells and 1.4 million homes lost power when operations at five nuclear power plants halted during the typhoon. Services were scheduled for restoration on Monday.

More than 17 inches of rain fell in some parts of South Korea and flood warnings were issued across central and southern portions of the country. A government statement released Sunday said that the typhoon damaged 774 roads, 27 bridges, and submerged 43,027 acres of farmland, resulting in more than $1.4 billion in damages.

Typhoon Maemi had weakened by Sunday into a tropical depression, causing only minor damage on the island of Hokkaido as it dissipated.

South Korea is usually hit by several typhoons each summer and early fall. In September last year, Typhoon Rusa left at least 119 dead. The deadliest typhoon ever to hit South Korea was Sara, which killed 849 people in 1959.

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