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Unusually powerful typhoon to batter Korean Peninsula
SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- The most powerful typhoon in a decade is set to hit the Korean Peninsula early this week, weather forecasters said Sunday, prompting authorities to brace for a worst-case scenario.

   Typhoon Bolaven, which is named after a highland region in Laos, was recorded at 16 kilometers per hour over southeastern waters off Japan's Okinawa as of 9 a.m. and moving northward, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

   The typhoon is expected to approach waters some 500 kilometers off South Korea's southern island of Jeju early on Monday, then transit near the country's west coast before making landfall near Sinuiju, North Korea, on Wednesday.

  
Typhoon Bolaven was recorded at 16 kilometers per hour over southeastern waters off Japan's Okinawa as of 9 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2012, and is moving northward to pass along the west coast of the Korean Peninsula next week, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. (Photo courtesy of KMA) (Yonhap)


The storm is large in scale with a central pressure of 920 hectopascals and a maximum wind speed of 53 meters per second, the KMA said, adding it is expected to stay at that strength until at least early Wednesday.

   "We classify a typhoon with a maximum wind speed of more than 44 meters per second as 'super strong,' which can move not just people but big rocks," a KMA official said.

   "Moving along the west coast, the typhoon could weaken a little, but it's moving closer to the peninsula than previously thought and could deal a serious blow," he added.

   Heavy downpours and gale winds are expected to start on Jeju Island and the southern part of the country late Monday, it added.

   The most fatal typhoon this decade in South Korea was Typhoon Rusa in 2002. After making landfall on the southern part of the country with a central pressure of 965 hectopascals and a maximum wind speed of 33 meters per second, the typhoon caused 246 deaths and 5.1 trillion won (US$4.49 billion) in property damage, government data showed.

   To brace for what may be the country's worst storm, authorities said they are conducting safety inspections of areas prone to landslides, cordoning off dangerous areas such as seawalls and beaches, and encouraging people living in vulnerable regions to evacuate beforehand.

   In mid-July, Typhoon Khanun passed through the country, resulting in the death of one person and causing hundreds of passenger services to be canceled.

  
Hundreds of ships take shelter in South Korea's southern port city of Gunsan, as Typhoon Bolaven approaches the Korean Peninsula on Aug. 26, 2012. (Yonhap)


graceoh@yna.co.kr
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