Mon, Oct 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Japan halts flights, trains as typhoon pounds mainland

AFP, KAGOSHIMA, Japan

A man holds his hat during Typhoon Trami in Kagoshima, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A powerful typhoon yesterday pounded Japan’s mainland after injuring dozens on outlying islands, bringing transport grinding to a halt and triggering warnings of fierce winds, torrential rain, landslides and floods.

Typhoon Trami has already snarled travel in the world’s third-biggest economy, with bullet train services suspended, more than 1,000 flights canceled and Tokyo’s evening train services scrapped.

The storm’s huge eye was forecast to move near the city of Osaka before churning across the Japanese archipelago, likely hitting areas still recovering from extreme weather that has battered Japan in the past few months.

In total, 65 people have sustained minor injuries — mainly cuts from shattered glass — and one woman was reported missing in the Miyazaki region, which was drenched by record rainfall and suffered localized flooding.

According to local media, the woman, in her 60s, was swept away by gusts in a gutter while working with her husband in their rice field.

Nationwide, authorities have issued non-compulsory evacuation advisories to 1.5 million residents, according to public broadcaster NHK, and officials urged people across the country to stay indoors.

Nearly 500,000 households in the western region of Kyushu and Okinawa have lost power, local utilities said.

Violent gusts and heavy rain made it impossible to venture outside, said Yuji Ueno, an official in the town of Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture, which was forecast to be right in Trami’s path.

“From about 2pm, we saw incredible winds and rain. I stepped outside the city hall in the afternoon, and the rain was swirling in very strong wind. Enormous wind,” Ueno said.

“It was difficult to stay standing. It was very scary,” Ueno added.

As the typhoon barrelled east, rail authorities took the highly unusual step of canceling evening train services in Tokyo, one of the world’s busiest networks, urging passengers to shelter indoors when the storm hits.

The typhoon was not expected to hit the capital head-on, but strong winds and heavy rain were still feared from later yesterday. Some businesses were already putting up shutters and hunkering down.

Trami is the latest in a string of extreme natural events in Japan, which has suffered typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and heatwaves in the past few months, claiming scores of lives and causing extensive damage.

Packing maximum gusts of 216kph, Trami was expected to travel over most of the archipelago, weakening slightly, but causing extreme weather into today, forecasters said.

Still classed as a “very strong” typhoon, Trami pounded Kagoshima on the western tip of Japan early yesterday, causing minor injuries — such as cuts from broken windows and people knocked over by gusts.

The western city of Osaka lay close to the path of the storm and its Kansai Airport, which is situated on reclaimed land offshore and suffered extensive damage in a storm earlier last month, closed two runways.

Officials piled up sandbags to avoid a repeat of flooding seen during the previous storm.

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