Typhoon Halong brings heavy rainfall, disrupts start of Bon holidays

AP, Kyodo

Typhoon Halong lashed Japan on Saturday heading into a holiday week, causing authorities to order the evacuation of half a million people living near swollen rivers and the cancelation of hundreds of flights.

The 11th typhoon of the year also disrupted land traffic and injured at least six people as the nation began the annual Bon holidays.

The Meteorological Agency issued a warning for heavy rain in Mie Prefecture, prompting two towns to order about 570,000 residents to evacuate due to a fear of flooding from swollen rivers. The agency said heavy rain in the area would continue overnight.

Among the areas that experienced strong rains was Owase, Mie Prefecture, with an hourly rainfall of 85 mm.

Strong winds left six people injured, one seriously, in Miyazaki Prefecture. One of the victims, a woman in her 70s, broke her ankle when a portable toilet booth fell over on her as she was walking by.

Airlines, including the country’s two major carriers, Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co., canceled about 500 flights on Saturday, affecting more than 20,000 passengers. As of Saturday evening, the airlines had also canceled more than 100 flights scheduled for Sunday.

Halong, packing winds of up to 180 kph, was approaching Shikoku late Saturday. At 6 p.m., the typhoon was located around 120 km south of Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture, and was heading north-northeast with an atmospheric pressure of 960 hectopascals at its center and packing winds of up to 180 km per hour.

Among the areas which had already experienced strong rains was Owase, Mie, with an hourly rainfall of 85 mm.

Rainfall in the 24 hours to midnight Sunday is expected to reach 500 millimeters in the Tokai region, 400 mm in Shikoku and Kinki, 300 mm in Kanto-Koshin, 250 mm in Tohoku and 200 mm in Chugoku and Hokuriku.

The typhoon is also likely to cause waves as high as 12 meters, the agency said.

The agency predicted heavy rain in Tokyo on Sunday, though the storm was expected to veer off to the Sea of Japan before hitting the capital.

“It’s an abnormal situation that poses a serious danger,” agency official Satoshi Ebihara said, urging residents in affected areas to follow local authorities’ instructions for safe evacuation.