Powerful typhoon pounds southern Japan; thousands evacuated

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TOKYO – A massive typhoon came ashore in southern Japan on Sunday, pounding the region with strong winds and heavy rain, triggering blackouts, crippling land and air services, and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Typhoon Nanmadol was headed north after making landfall in Kagoshima city on Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It had maximum winds of 162 kilometers per hour and was expected to arrive at Tokyo on Tuesday.

The weather service projected up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain by Monday evening, along with flooding and landslides. It also warned inhabitants in the impacted areas of “extraordinary” gusts and waves, advising them to escape as soon as possible.

Storm and high-wave warnings were in effect in Kagoshima, and inhabitants were advised to shelter inside stable structures on the second or above floors if it was regarded a safer alternative than travelling to evacuation centers.

More than 12,000 people sought refuge in evacuation centers. Around 8,000 people fled their houses in neighboring Miyazaki prefecture.

Several people were hurt, according to local officials. When gusts damaged windows at a gymnasium in Kushima, Miyazaki, a woman was mildly injured by fragments of glass. According to NHK national television, 15 individuals were hurt, citing its own tally.

Power outages spread over Kyushu as the typhoon damaged additional power cables and facilities as it moved north. According to Kyushu Electric Power Co., 216,450 houses were without power as of Sunday night.

On NHK television, footage showed a pachinko pinball parlor in Kanoya, Kagoshima, with a portion of its glass wall smashed by the gust. NHK reported that an elderly woman in another prefecture received a slight injury after falling.

According to Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, hundreds of domestic flights have been canceled and more are expected to be grounded in western Japan through Tuesday as the typhoon moves northeast.

Many portions of Kyushu island’s public transit, including trains and buses, were shut down on Sunday. Bullet trains on Kyushu island have also been suspended, according to railway operators, and more disruptions are expected in larger areas in the southwest on Monday.

Source: AFP

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