Two million Japanese threatened by a dangerous typhoon

published on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 5:57 p.m.

Two million Japanese are at risk from the arrival of Typhoon Nanmadol, national broadcaster NHK warned on Saturday, as the weather agency issued a rare “special warning” urging residents to take shelter.

The channel, which compiles alerts issued by local authorities, said evacuation instructions were in place for residents of Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki in the Kyushu region, south of the archipelago.

The move came as the Japan Meteorological Agency issued its highest alert for the Kagoshima region, a warning not seen in decades.

An evacuation “order” – level four on a scale of five – has been issued for 330,000 residents of the city of Kagoshima, and authorities have urged people to go to shelters.

On Saturday evening, Typhoon Nanmadol was classified as “severe” by the agency and caused gusts of up to 270 kilometers per hour as it hovered at an altitude of about 200 kilometers north-northeast of the Minami Daito Island, one of those that form the Okinawa region.

The storm is expected to approach or make landfall in Kagoshima prefecture on Sunday, then move north the next day before heading towards the main island of Japan.

“The risk of storms is unprecedented, with high waves and record rainfall,” Ryuta Kurora, head of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s forecast unit, told reporters.

“The utmost caution is required,” he said, urging residents to evacuate as quickly as possible.

“It’s a very dangerous typhoon” and “the wind will be so strong that some houses could collapse,” Kurora said, also warning of floods and landslides.

Mr Kurora said the meteorological agency could issue a maximum alert later on Saturday for the Kagoshima region.

It would be the first typhoon-related special alert issued outside the Okinawa area since the system was set up in 2013.

The population concerned is called upon to move to shelters or alternative accommodation capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions.

But these warnings are not orders. During extreme weather events in the past, authorities have struggled to convince residents to take shelter.

Kurora said even inside solid buildings, residents should take precautions.

“Please go to strong buildings before strong winds start blowing and stay away from windows, even inside strong buildings,” he told a conference. press at the end of the evening.

Japan is in the middle of typhoon season. It is hit by about 20 such storms each year, which are accompanied by heavy rains causing landslides or flash floods.

In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis swept through Japan as it hosted the Rugby World Cup, claiming the lives of more than 100 people. A year earlier, Typhoon Jebi shut down Kansai airport in Osaka, killing 14 people. And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the rainy season.

Before Typhoon Nanmadol landed, flight cancellations began affecting regional airports, including those in Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto, according to the websites of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

Scientists say climate change is increasing the intensity of storms and making extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, droughts and flash floods more frequent and intense.

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