Eight people were killed and 10 are missing after a strong typhoon pounded South Korea on Tuesday, uprooting trees, sinking ships and cutting power to almost 200,000 homes. By late afternoon Typhoon Bolaven – the strongest to hit the country for almost a decade – was moving towards North Korea, which is still struggling to recover from deadly floods earlier in the summer. Hundreds of flights in the South were grounded, ferry services were suspended and schools in Seoul and several other areas were closed. Bolaven left a trail of death and destruction in southwestern and south-central regions of the country, although officials said it had been little felt in central parts of the capital Seoul. Off the southern island of Jeju, the storm drove two Chinese fishing ships aground early on Tuesday, sparking a dramatic rescue operation. Coastguards wearing wetsuits struggled through high waves and then used a line-launcher to fire ropes to one ship, a coastguard spokesman said. The other boat broke apart. Rescuers saved 12 people while six swam ashore, but 10 crew members are still missing, the spokesman said. Five bodies were recovered. In the southern county of Wanju, a 48-year-old man was killed by a shipping container flipped over by gale-force winds, the public administration ministry said. An elderly woman was crushed to death when a church spire collapsed onto her house in the southwestern city of Gwangju, while another elderly woman was blown off the roof of her home in the western county of Seocheon, it said. A 77,000-tonne bulk carrier broke into two off the southeastern port of Sacheon but no casualties were reported, the ministry said. The transport ministry said all 87 sea ferry services had been halted. A total of 247 flights – 183 domestic and 64 international – have been cancelled since on Monday. The typhoon – packing winds of 144 kilometres per hour at one time – brought heavy rain and strong winds to southern and western areas. It toppled street lights and signs, shattered windows, uprooted trees and tore off shop signs. The National Emergency Management Agency said 197,751 homes in Jeju and the southwest and south-central regions lost power. A total of 54 people, mostly in the southwest, were evacuated from their homes and taken to shelters. Some 16 homes were damaged. The US and South Korean armed forces called a temporary halt to a large-scale joint military exercise that began last week. After sweeping up the Yellow Sea to the west of South Korea, Bolaven was expected to make landfall in North Korea around 6pm. The impoverished North is already struggling to recover from a devastating drought followed by floods earlier this summer. The floods killed 169 people, left about 400 missing and made more than 212,000 people homeless, according to official figures. UN agencies are providing food and other aid. Weather officials said Typhoon Tembin was also threatening the Korean peninsula, and was forecast to be some 200 kilometres west of Jeju early Friday.