World

Typhoon brings strong winds and power outages to Japan

KAGOSHIMA, JAPAN: A powerful typhoon began to lash southern Japan yesterday, with officials warning it could bring record rainfall and winds strong enough to snap power line poles and flip cars.

Typhoon Haishen has already cut power to almost 30,000 homes in Kagoshima prefecture and more than 3,000 homes in Okinawa, NHK said.

Categorised as "large" and "extremely strong", it has prompted evacuation advisories for more than three million residents, particularly in Kyushu, which the storm is expected to affect overnight.

The storm has weakened somewhat, shifting away from the mainland, and Japan's weather agency said it was no longer likely to issue its top-level typhoon warning. But it urged residents to exercise "most serious caution" for possible record rain, violent winds, high waves and surging tides.

"Record-level rainfall is expected (where the typhoon approaches). It may cause landslides or it could cause even large rivers to flood," Mr Yoshihisa Nakamoto, director of the forecast division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, said.

He added that surging tides could cause widespread flooding in low-lying areas, particularly around river mouths.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called an emergency Cabinet meeting to coordinate the government's response.

"I ask the Japanese people, including those who live in high-risk areas for flooding rivers or high tides to stay informed and take action immediately to ensure their safety."

At 3pm, Haishen was packing gusts up to 216kmh, strong enough to overturn vehicles and snap power line poles.

The authorities across Kyushu have issued evacuation advisories for nearly 2.5 million residents.

One evacuation centre in Miyazaki reached capacity and stopped accepting evacuees as a precaution against the coronavirus, according to NHK.

Local officials have asked people to avoid crowded shelters if possible, so in many places residents have checked into hotels.

"I live near a river, and I wanted to go to a safe place and thought about the coronavirus too," a woman in Miyazaki told NHK. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD