A powerful typhoon struck the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa on Friday, pounding them with torrential rains and high winds before it heads north towards the nation’s main islands.
Up to 500 mm (20 inches) of rain was expected to fall on some parts of Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu by Saturday morning, further battering areas already hit by heavy rains and flooding earlier this week.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled and some 60,000 people left without electricity as Typhoon Man-yi bore down on the tropical Okinawa island chain some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) southwest of Tokyo. Seven people were injured, though none seriously.
Man-yi passed close to the Okinawan city of Naha and was around 40 km west of the city of Nago as of noon (0300 GMT) and moving north at 20 km an hour, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.
It had winds at its centre of 180 km an hour and gusts of up to 252 km an hour.
“This storm is moving rather slowly, which means that rain will fall for quite some time, especially in places like Kyushu,” an agency official said.
The agency described the typhoon’s speed as that of “somebody on a bicycle”.
“Rain is the biggest worry with this storm. Given the rain that has already fallen in Kyushu, the chance of damage is high.”
Television footage showed a car on its side in a Naha street having been blown over by wind, and cars plowing through streets covered with water. Electric poles were toppled to the ground, one crushing a car.
Some 240 flights to and from Okinawa were cancelled, NHK public television said.
The storm, classified as a category 4 typhoon by British-based Web site Tropical Storm Risk (www.tropicalstormrisk.com), was expected to increase the activity of the annual rainy season front and pound much of Japan with heavy rain over an extended holiday weekend.
Kyushu, where one man died earlier this week when he was swept away by a flooded river, braced for more rain and flooding, and nearly 2,000 people were advised to evacuate.
“We had really heavy rain and thunderstorms at dawn,” one woman told NHK at an evacuation centre in the Kyushu city of Saito, a rural area where swollen rivers flowed close to the top of their banks.
“I want to go home. I’m really worried about our greenhouses.”
The storm could make landfall on Kyushu sometime on Saturday, though the Meteorological Agency said the possibility was low.
It is currently predicted to turn eastward, after which it will pick up speed and rapidly weaken, brushing close to Tokyo on Monday, a national holiday.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Temmuz 2007, 09:47