South Korea’s weather agency warned there could be casualties as the nation prepares for the most powerful storm in its history to make landfall early Tuesday.
Oil refiners to chemical operations and the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant began taking precautions with Super Typhoon Hinnamnor expected to hammer the resort island of Jeju and the key industrial city of Ulsan on the country’s southeast coast after disrupting ports and air traffic across China and Japan.
“We’re now entering a phase where we have to minimize casualties,” Han Sang Un, the chief forecaster at Korea Meteorological Administration, said during a briefing Monday, urging residents of southern coastal areas to remain indoors, rather than carry out maintenance to prepare for the storm’s arrival.
“It’s a massive typhoon with a 400-kilometer (248.5 miles) radius, which is big enough to cover Seoul to Busan. Most regions in Korea will experience intense rain and wind,” he said. According to the administration, the typhoon will likely hit Jeju Tuesday at around 1 a.m. local, while southern coast cities should be affected at approximately 7 a.m.
To prepare for storms, run rates at three reactors of Kori Nuclear Power Plant were reduced to below 30%. Liquid natural gas traders stated that they expect delays in some deliveries to minimize the damage to the storm.
South Korea’s biggest oil refiner SK Innovation Co. suspended crude vessels from entering its Ulsan port and is working on securing backup power supply at the plant, a company spokesman said. GS Caltex Corp. moved ships to safety zones, while LG Chem Ltd. operates under an emergency plan that includes enhanced safety monitoring at its Yeosu-Ulsan plants.
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Korea Electric Power Corp. is a government-owned corporation that was making measures to guarantee a reliable supply of electricity. Subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. lowered output at the Kori nuclear plant preemptively to guard against any abrupt disruptions if reactors are directly impacted by Hinnamnor.
According to Korea Meteorological Administration, the storm was moving north-northeast at 17 km/h, 300km south-southwest of Jeju’s coast. The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center reports that Hinnamnor currently has sustained winds at 127 miles per anhour with gusts up to 155 miles/hour.
President Yoon Suk Yeol said the government will stay on its toes to protect the lives and safety of citizens, while the country’s Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said there is a concern that the worsening weather may impact consumer prices at a time when inflation remains high.
Since its inception last month, Hinnamnor already has disrupted airport services, schools and port operations across Asia. Shanghai’s major container port of Yangshan was preparing to resume terminal operations after an earlier halt, while South Korea’s Busan and Ulsan ports have closed. Korean Air Lines Co., Asiana Airlines Inc. cancelled more than 170 domestic flight departures for Monday and Tuesday. Some airline arrivals to and departures from Okinawa prefecture were also cancelled. Safety reasons will cause some schools to be shut down in South Korea as well as China.
South Korea’s top steelmaker Posco Holdings Inc. is considering a partial closure of its plant in Pohang and shipbuilders, including Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., were debating whether to halt production, the companies said Monday.
Almost 200 residents in coastal areas of Busan, the nation’s second most populous city, were asked Monday to evacuate to shelters, while stores at Marine City in the Haeundae beach district were told to temporarily close.
—Kevin Varley and Heejin aided
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