Sunday 25 March 2018

Japan lashed by powerful typhoon

Pedestrians make their way through a street in Tokyo before a powerful typhoon hit (AP/Kyodo News)
Pedestrians make their way through a street in Tokyo before a powerful typhoon hit (AP/Kyodo News)
A flooded area near the beach in Tumon, Guam, after a typhoon whipped the Mariana Islands (AP)

A powerful typhoon that has killed at least one US airman slammed central Japan, disrupting transport and triggering mudslides, before swerving to the Pacific Ocean.

The bullet train service was suspended between Tokyo and Osaka because of the heavy rain, and more than 600 flights were cancelled at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The trains resumed service later in the day, although with delays.

Typhoon Phanfone came ashore near the city of Hamamatsu today and travelled north before turning east into the Pacific north of Tokyo.

Authorities advised more than two million people to evacuate, according to Kyodo News.

One of three US airmen who went missing on Okinawa's northern coast was found dead. The other two were still missing, according to the Air Force and the Japanese coast guard.

The Air Force said the search for the missing airmen had been interrupted by rough seas. Okinawa is home to about half of the roughly 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan.

Japanese broadcaster NHK reported one death, with five people missing. Footage showed flooded areas of Kanagawa prefecture, south-west of Tokyo, where people were wading in knee-high muddy water. Buildings and parked cars were sitting in big pools of water.

The search for a dozen people still missing after a volcanic eruption in central Japan was suspended yesterday and has not resumed because of worries about possible landslides. The September 27 eruption killed at least 51 hikers.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, a separate typhoon whipped the Mariana Islands with high winds and heavy rain.

The eye of Typhoon Vongfong skirted Rota, a small island with about 2,500 residents where many buildings are made of concrete.

Power outages and minor flooding were reported in the morning. But by early afternoon, there were no reports of injuries or major damage anywhere on the islands as the storm moved away from the region. The weather service cancelled a flash-flood watch for the islands.

Tanya King, who was in Sinapolo, one of the population centres on Rota, said she was without electricity and it was still very windy hours after the eye passed. She said a friend living near the ocean had broken windows "but all is well".

The brunt of the storm bypassed Guam, where many residents heeded warnings about high winds and flooding by taking refuge in designated shelters.

As conditions improved, Guam officials shut down the island's storm centre, the airport resumed full operations, and government agencies and many businesses began reopening. There was some flooding in low-lying areas, but roads were passable.

Typhoon Vongfong had maximum sustained winds of about 195 kilometres (105 miles) per hour, said Roger Edson of the National Weather Service in Guam. Winds on the islands of Guam, Tinian and Saipan were gusting to at least 102 kph (55 mph).

Press Association

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