BUSAN — Typhoon Hinnamnor made landfall in South Korea early Tuesday, causing power outages and leaving one person missing, but with few early reports of major damage as it headed back to sea.
The typhoon, one of the most powerful to bear down on the country in decades, hit the country's southern island of Jeju overnight before making landfall near the port city of Busan, which was battered by huge waves and heavy rain, damaging beachfront roads and shops.
The typhoon was moving at a speed of 43 meters per second when it made landfall, authorities said.
A 25-year-old man went missing after falling into a rain-swollen stream in the eastern coastal city of Ulsan, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said.
As a precaution, authorities closed more than 600 schools nationwide, and local carriers grounded some 250 domestic flights -- but service gradually resumed Tuesday as Hinnamnor headed towards Japan.
North Korea had also been bracing for the storm, with leader Kim Jong-un overseeing a meeting in Pyongyang to assess the country's disaster response preparedness, official state media reported Tuesday.
Kim said boosting Pyongyang's disaster response was crucial as "nothing is more precious... than the people's life and safety," the Korean Central News Agency said.
Experts say North Korea is particularly vulnerable to flooding and heavy rains due to deforestation and poor irrigation.
On Tuesday morning, the typhoon was over the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea, 100 kilometers off Tsushima island of Nagasaki prefecture in southwestern Japan, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
More than 35,000 households were without power in Japan's southwestern Kyushu region, Kyushu Electricity said in a statement.
Packing gusts of up to 180 kilometers per hour, it was moving northeast at a speed of 45 kph and was expected to bring heavy rains to western Japan on Tuesday.
Some of Japan's famed bullet trains were suspended due to strong winds and rain, and many local trains also paused service, operator JR Kyushu said.
At least 120 flights departing and landing at Kyushu's airport were cancelled, public broadcaster NHK reported.
© Agence France-Presse