Typhoon Chan-hom grounds domestic flights in South Korea

High waves generated by Typhoon Chan-hom hitting the coast in the south-eastern port city of Busan on July 12, 2015. Domestic flights were cancelled in South Korea on July 12, as Typhoon Chan-hom brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to southwestern provinces. PHOTO: AFP
Tourists take photos of their inside-out umbrellas in the West Lake scenic zone in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (AFP) - Domestic flights were cancelled in South Korea on Sunday as Typhoon Chan-hom brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to south-western provinces.

The storm grounded more than 150 domestic flights nationwide, airport authorities said. International flights were not affected.

A strong wind alert has been issued along South Korea's southern and western coastal areas, which received up to 197 mm of rain as of 11am.

The weather authorities said the typhoon would be downgraded to a tropical storm when it reaches North Korea's Hwanghae province on Monday morning.

The authorities in China evacuated more than a million people as the typhoon swiped the eastern coast on Saturday, paralysing transport links and devastating farmland, although no casualties were reported, the Chinese government and state media said.

Huge waves struck the coast in Wenling, in the east of worst-hit province Zhejiang, while further north people in the city of Shaoxing scrambled onto diggers and dragged themselves along ropes to escape the floodwaters.

Provincial authorities estimate economic losses from the storm could reach more than 1.9 billion yuan (S$413 million), particularly in the agricultural sector, Chinese state media reported.

Pictures from the region showed smashed greenhouses, flooded irrigation systems and ruined crops. In the wake of the storm, photos circulating on the Internet showed residents young and old catching fish that the typhoon had washed ashore.

China's National Meteorological Center on Sunday downgraded its alert on the typhoon from red to orange, its second-highest warning.

But it issued a rainstorm alert for the provinces of Shandong, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang and forecast strong gales in the north of the East China Sea.

Five people in the Philippines were killed earlier in the week and more than 20 people injured in Japan on Friday.

Taiwan was also affected by the storm, closing its stock market and shutting schools and offices on Friday as heavy rainfall and fierce winds battered the north.

A number of flights in and out of Japan's Okinawa island chain and northern Taiwan were cancelled.

The United States government's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecast that after hitting China, Chan-hom would head towards the Korean Peninsula, bringing "gale-force" winds to the west coast of South Korea.

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