4 fishermen dead, 12 missing as Typhoon Bolaven reaches Korean Peninsula

A Chinese fishing boat fights high waves after taking shelter in a port on Jeju on August 27, 2012, ahead Typhoon Bolaven.

Story highlights

  • The storm knocks out power in almost 200,000 households in South Korea
  • More than 100 flights are canceled and about 20 roads are closed
  • Four Chinese fisherman are found dead and 17 have been rescued
  • The search is on for another 12 fishermen still missing
Four Chinese fishermen died and 12 were missing in stormy waters off South Korea's Jeju Island on Tuesday as Typhoon Bolaven brought howling winds and torrential rain to the Korean Peninsula.
Maritime police on Jeju Island, situated off the southern tip of the South Korean mainland, said that 17 people had been rescued but that searches were on for those still unaccounted for after two boats capsized early Tuesday as Bolaven raged.
The powerful storm was moving north alongside the west coast of South Korea by Tuesday afternoon, disrupting transport, cutting off power and damaging property.
The South Korean Central Disaster Relief Headquarters said one person had died after being crushed by a container and that another had been injured after being hit by an object blown by the wind.
Nearly 200,000 households were without power, the disaster agency said, most of them in the south of the country. About 1,000 people in coastal areas had been advised to relocate to safe areas, it said.
The storm prompted the cancellation of 119 flights, the suspension of 96 ferry routes and the temporary closure of 21 roads, according to the agency.
President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea had called Monday on government agencies to take measures to minimize damage from the approaching storm, the national news agency Yonhap reported, citing Park Jeong-ha, a spokesman for Lee.
Okinawa, meanwhile, emerged relatively unscathed Monday after the typhoon buffeted it with maximum sustained winds near its center of 185 kilometers per hour (115 mph), according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which monitors storms in the region.
That wind strength put Bolaven in the "super typhoon" category at the time. And with a cloud field of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), it was 20 times larger than Okinawa's length. The storm weakened somewhat Tuesday to become a regular typhoon, with maximum sustained winds of around 130 kilometers per hour (86 miles per hour).
Okinawa, which is situated in an area of the western Pacific Ocean where typhoons are frequent, avoided the kind of destruction that some other storms have caused in East Asia this summer.
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Five people were injured on the island, the local authorities said, and 549 residents took shelter in public buildings to avoid potential damage to their homes. About 17,500 households lost electricity as the storm damaged power lines.
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Storm chaser James Reynolds was on the northwestern coast of the island during the worst of the typhoon.
"Like the rest of the population we all just kind of holed up in the strong and sturdy buildings which make up Okinawa," he said Monday.
The infrastructure on Okinawa is designed to withstand violent storms. "Everything's made of solid concrete," Reynolds said.
The damage was also limited because Bolaven didn't bring winds as powerful as initially feared, said Morichiyo Ohshiro, an official from the Okinawa Prefecture Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Division.
The power of Bolaven was also having an effect on another storm further south.
Typhoon Tembin made landfall in southern Taiwan a few days ago, and was expected to work its way toward Hong Kong. But Bolaven, which is much stronger, has stopped Tembin's movement toward Hong Kong and has been spinning it around.
"As Typhoon Bolaven moves northward towards the Yellow Sea, it will drag Tembin toward the China coast very near Shanghai," said CNN International meteorologist Tom Sater. "That's an amazing change in direction."