Weather

Japan on alert as typhoon disrupts rail, air traffic operations

Tokyo, Sep 6 (efe-epa).- Authorities on Sunday called on people to stay on the highest alert as Typhoon Haishen advances towards Japan’s southwest, causing major disruptions in rail and air traffic operations and prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents.

According to public broadcaster NHK, over 25,000 people were ordered to evacuate immediately as the typhoon Haishen approaches Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Okinawa Prefectures in the southwestern region of the country.

Airlines as a precautionary measure have canceled 528 flights for Sunday, mostly to and from the southern parts of Kyushu and Okinawa. More cancellations are likely on Monday.

Railway authorities have also canceled the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train services between Hiroshima and Hakata stations through Monday and reduced the number of trains running between Shin-Osaka and Hiroshima stations, NHK reported.

Haishen is the 10th typhoon of the season in the Pacific, classified as “very strong” by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The agency said the storm had weakened slightly but cautioned that it could still be the most powerful storm to hit the archipelago in decades.

The weather authorities said the typhoon could bring winds of 180 km (112 miles) per hour near its center and gusts of up to 252 km per hour.

They warned of torrential rains, waves, and storm surge in the Kyushu region between Sunday and Monday, and have urged the people to move to safer places.

The government said there was a growing risk that the rains would cause overflows in major rivers in Kagoshima, Miyazaki, and Kumamoto prefectures on the island of Kyushu.

Many hotels in Miyazaki Prefecture were fully booked for Sunday by people evacuating their homes, NHK said.

According to weather officials, the typhoon was 110 km southeast of Amami Oshima Island in the Pacific at 10 a.m. on Sunday. They said it was moving north at a speed of 20 km per hour.

In Amami Oshima, some 8,580 homes suffered power outages.

The government had also recommended on Sunday evacuation of more than 42,500 people to 70 safety centers enabled on the island. EFE-EPA

mra/ssk

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