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Japan

Dozens injured after powerful storm lashes disaster-hit Japan

With the typhoon taking an unusual route toward the west, the disaster-struck areas remained on high alert as the weather agency warned of further flooding and landslides, as well as storms and high wave

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 2:45am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 10:29pm

A weakening typhoon travelled over Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu after passing through western regions on Sunday, injuring at least 24 people and causing extreme heat in the Hokuriku region facing the Sea of Japan.

But no injuries or damage due to Typhoon Jongdari were immediately reported in regions ravaged by flooding and landslides earlier this month, as local authorities had advised residents to evacuate early as a precaution.

The typhoon made landfall in central Japan’s Mie Prefecture in the early hours of Sunday. It brought intense rainfall across wide areas and led to temperatures rising close to 40 degrees in Hokuriku in a phenomenon known as foehn wind, or moist air becoming warm and dry after passing a high mountain.

The injuries sustained were mostly due to accidents triggered by strong winds or high waves. Damage to property, such as roofs blown off by strong gusts, was also reported in several prefectures.

With the typhoon taking an unusual route toward the west, the disaster-struck areas remained on high alert as the weather agency warned of further flooding and landslides, as well as storms and high waves. Evacuation advisories were issued for some areas.

“I was afraid of getting more torrential rain, but I’m relieved that we did not have any major damage this time,” said Nobuhiro Kanetomo, 40, in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas in the rain disaster.

At 7pm., Typhoon Jongdari was moving over northern Kyushu at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour and packing winds of up to 90km/h, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Transport has also been affected, with some Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways flights connecting Tokyo to western Japan cancelled.

West Japan Railway Co. and some other private railway operators said some of their train services were either delayed or halted.

On Saturday night in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, 15 vehicles including an ambulance were stuck on a water-covered road near the ocean due to high waves, and were eventually caught up in them. About 30 people were evacuated to higher ground.

The same night, five people staying at a hotel in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, were slightly hurt due to broken windowpanes caused by high waves.

Rain will continue in some areas even after the typhoon passes. Radar data showed there was rainfall of more than 120 millimetres per hour in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, in western Japan.

Typhoons typically approach the Japanese archipelago from the southwest, and many follow a southwest-to-northeast course due partly to the effect of the westerly jet stream and high pressure over the Pacific.

The unusual course prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to warn about the weekend storm on Friday, particularly for those affected by the massive flooding in western Japan that killed 224 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes earlier this month.

Temperatures are also expected to rise after the typhoon, bringing back the risk of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

The country has been gripped by a heatwave that immediately followed the rain disaster and which the agency has declared a “natural disaster.” Extreme heat pushed the mercury to a record high 41.1 C on July 23 and claimed dozens of lives, mostly elderly people, from heatstroke.

In the 24-hour period through noon on Monday, 200mm of rain may fall in some areas in western and southwestern Japan.