National

Typhoon Cimaron heads for Hokkaido after slamming into western Japan

Kyodo

The 20th typhoon of the season brought record downpours to western Japan, including Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures, late Thursday and early Friday before heading north over the Sea of Japan.

The Meteorological Agency warned of gusts, high waves and landslides as Typhoon Cimaron looked to turn into an extratropical cyclone Friday night as the storm was predicted to hit Hokkaido.

On Thursday night, the typhoon made landfall in southern Tokushima Prefecture and later spurred flooding in Wakayama Prefecture.

According to Kansai Electric Power Co., about 26,590 houses in Mie, Shiga, Kyoto, Nara and Wakayama Prefectures experienced power cuts caused by the typhoon. Power supplies to all of those homes were said to have been restored by 9 p.m.

On Thursday, more than 350 flights were canceled at airports in western Japan. At 6 p.m., Shikoku Railway Co., better known as JR Shikoku, halted operations of all railway services. The storm is already suspected to have led to the disappearance of three Shizuoka University students — Eina Goto, 19, Yoshifumi Matsudo, 19, and Toshikazu Matsumura, 20 — who vanished Thursday from a beach in the city of Shizuoka. Police and firefighters fear they were swept away by high waves caused by the typhoon.

According to police, their backpacks and smartphones were left on a bench at the beach. Police found videos showing them enjoying the fireworks there at around 11 p.m. Wednesday.

In Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, a woman in her 70s suffered a head injury after being knocked over by strong winds. She was rushed to a hospital.

Cimaron is the second typhoon to hit Japan this week. Combined with Typhoon Soulik, which struck southwestern Japan earlier in the week, rainfall in western Japan is expected to total a meter in some areas, the Meteorological Agency said.

As of 9 p.m. Thursday, Cimaron was traveling northwards near Anan, Tokushima Prefecture, at a speed of about 35 kph. It was packing winds of up to 198 kph at its center with an atmospheric pressure of 965 hectopascals.

“I want the government to take coordinated measures to prevent damage as much as possible such as through early evacuations,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of the government’s disaster response headquarters.

Abe said he wants citizens to take actions to protect themselves, such as evacuating before nightfall.

In the town of Saka in Hiroshima Prefecture, residents expressed concern about the looming typhoon as they continued to remove mud from homes and roads damaged by the torrential rain and landslides in July.

“We have to proceed (with recovery efforts) by watching the weather forecasts” carefully, a 73-year-old male resident said.

Among disruptions to transport services, the Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo long distance sleeper trains that run between Tokyo and the Sanin and Shikoku regions were also affected by the typhoon.

Winds of up to 198 kph are expected through Friday in Shikoku, with up to 800 mm of rain projected to inundate the area in the 24-hour period ending Friday morning.

Heavy rain from the two typhoons has raised concern about landslides and swollen rivers. Since Monday, over 400 mm of rain had been recorded in Kochi and Kagoshima prefectures, while the agency also warned of landslides in northern Kyushu.

The regional weather system around Japan is generating typhoons at a quick pace this year, with five forming on five consecutive days for the first time, between Aug. 12 and 16.