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Japan on high alert as powerful typhoon bears down on coast

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A powerful typhoon approaching southern Japan is pounding the region with strong winds and heavy rain, causing blackouts, and the evacuation of thousands of people.

 

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The Japan Meteorological Agency on Sunday said Typhoon Nanmadol was near the southern island of Yakushima, packing maximum surface winds of 160km/h as it slowly headed north to the country’s main southern island of Kyushu where it could make a landfall later in the day.

Nanmadol is forecast to turn east and reach Tokyo on Tuesday.

The agency predicted as much as 500mm of rainfall by midday on Monday, warning of flooding and landslides. The agency also warned residents in the affected area of “unprecedented” levels of powerful winds and waves, urging them to evacuate early.

Local authorities so far reported no major damage or injuries.

In the hard-hit Kagoshima prefecture, more than 9000 residents took shelter at evacuation centres on Sunday. In the neighbouring Miyazaki prefecture, another 4700 people evacuated.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. said more than 93,000 homes across the Kyushu island were without electricity because of damage to power lines and facilities.

Hundreds of domestic flights in and out of the region have been cancelled and more are planned to be grounded in western Japan through Tuesday as the typhoon headed northeast, according to Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

Public transportation including trains and buses in Kagoshima and Miyazaki were suspended throughout Sunday. Railway operators said bullet trains on the Kyushu island have been suspended.

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