Typhoon heads toward southern Japan

One person was killed and at least six injured as a powerful typhoon heading on Monday toward Japan’s mainland lashed Tokyo with torrential rains, flooded homes and cut off power to thousands.

A 61-year-old man was found dead late on Sunday on a flooded road in Saitama outside Tokyo after he rushed to help his son whose car was stuck, police said.

At least six people were injured on Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu and on the Okinawan chain further south, the National Police Agency said, as Typhoon Nabi slowly churned northwest along the edge of the East China Sea.

The storm centre, packing winds of up to 162km per hour, was located about 200km off Kyushu’s southern tip at 7pm (10am GMT), the Meteorological Agency said.

It said over 100mm of rain was dumped on the capital overnight, disrupting late night train services.

Nearly 2 000 homes were flooded by the powerful storm and 7 000 households were left without electricity in the Tokyo area, police said.

Public broadcaster NHK said that 337 domestic flights were grounded on Monday across Japan.

The typhoon was moving at 15km per hour and was expected to hit Kyushu early on Tuesday, a meteorological agency official said.

With news of the typhoon competing on television with scenes of the United States Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina, authorities called on Kyushu residents in Nabi’s path to consider leaving before the typhoon hits.

In southern Kyushu, more than 3 700 households were advised to evacuate their homes for public schools while over 8 800 households had no power on Monday, local officials said.

The Tokyo area is accustomed to the downpour from typhoons in the Pacific Ocean but some residents said they had rarely felt such a pounding.

Late-night trains took on the look of rush hour, with throngs of wet Tokyoites trying to get home on trains that were delayed when gushing waters flooded some tracks.

“I have never experienced such a heavy rain in my five years living here,” a man in his 40s told NHK.

A man in his 30s said he went onto his rooftop for safety because he could not leave his house.

“Water was almost reaching the second floor. I was really frightened,” said a woman in her 50s.

Japan was hit by Typhoon Mawar last month, which brought heavy rains and fierce winds that left at least one person dead and injured four others.

The country was struck by a record 10 typhoons last year. One of them, Tokage, was the deadliest typhoon in a quarter-century, killing 90 people.
- AFP

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