KAGOSHIMA: A powerful typhoon that officials warned could bring record rains and gusts strong enough to flip cars slammed into southern Japan on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge millions to seek shelter, reports AFP.
Typhoon Haishen has weakened somewhat as it neared Japan’s mainland, and shifted further west out to sea, but it remained a “large” and “extremely strong” storm.After lashing a string of exposed, remote southern islands, it neared Japan’s Kyushu region on Sunday evening, with authorities issues evacuation advisories for more than seven million residents.
The weather agency urged peoples to exercise “most serious caution” for possible record rain, violent winds, high waves and surging tides.
“Record-level rainfall is expected. It may cause landslides or it could cause even large rivers to flood,” said Yoshihisa Nakamoto, director of the forecast division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, during a televised briefing.
He added that surging tides could cause widespread flooding in low-lying areas, particularly around river mouths. As the storm passed over several remote islands earlier Sunday, strong winds bent palm trees and sheets of rain lashed the area.
At an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that flooding and landslides were a possibility. “Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,” he said.
“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 7 pm (1000 GMT), Haishen was located about 100 kilometres (62 miles) south-southwest of Makurazaki city, packing gusts up to 216 kmh (135 miles) — strong enough to overturn vehicles and snap wooden power poles.
The storm was forecast to move north and travel off the western coast of Kyushu before reaching South Korea Monday morning, according to the weather agency.
Authorities issued evacuation orders for 1.8 million people in the affected area, with 5.6 million people issued lower-level advisories, national broadcaster NHK said.
Evacuation orders in Japan are not compulsory, though authorities strongly urge people to follow them.