Japan braces for powerful typhoon

Tokyo: A powerful typhoon hurtled towards Japan on Saturday, prompting local authorities to issue early evacuation orders, with western areas recently devastated by floods and landslides in the storm’s crosshairs.
Typhoon Jongdari, packing winds of up to 180 kilometres an hour, is forecast to make landfall on the country’s main island on Saturday night or early Sunday, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency.
TV footage showed high waves smashing onto rocks and seawalls on the coastline in Shimoda, southwest of Tokyo, and trees buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain.
The storm, currently some 200 kilometres south of Tokyo, is expected to barrel towards the western Chugoku region Sunday, where record rainfall earlier this month unleashed flooding and landslides, killing around 220 people and leaving more than 4,000 survivors still living in temporary shelters.
The weather agency warned of heavy rain, landslides, strong winds and high waves, and urged people to consider early evacuation.
“We want people especially in the downpour-hit regions to pay close attention to evacuation advisories,” meteorological agency official Minako Sakurai told reporters.
The western city of Shobara in Hiroshima prefecture issued an evacuation order to some 36,400 residents as a precautionary measure, officials said. TV footage showed workers and residents hurriedly piling up sand bags to build temporary barriers against potential floods.
“Although it has not rained here, we are urging people to evacuate before it gets dark,” Masaharu Kataoka, a city official, said.
More evacuation orders and advisories were issued in western Japan, including Kure in Hiroshima prefecture, where some 6,380 residents were urged to evacuate, news reports said.
In Japan, evacuation orders are not mandatory and people often remain at home, and are later trapped by rapidly rising water or sudden landslides.
“It’s going to deal a double punch,” a resident in Okayama told public broadcaster NHK, referring to the recent killer downpours and the incoming typhoon. — AFP