Dozens injured as 'very strong' Typhoon Trami makes landfall in Wakayama

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo, Bloomberg

A powerful typhoon battered mainland Japan on Sunday after injuring dozens in the nation’s southern islands. Weather officials warned that fierce winds and torrential rain could trigger landslides and floods.

A woman in her 60s who went missing in Miyazaki Prefecture had been washed away in a drainage pipe, according to local police. Kyodo News said 76 people were injured.

Typhoon Trami, which made ladfall in Wakayama Prefecture around 8 p.m., has also sparked travel disruptions, with bullet train services in western Japan suspended and almost 1,000 flights canceled due to the closure of a key airport hub.

East Japan Railway Co., which operates major rail lines in the capital, took the highly unusual step of suspending all train services in the Tokyo area from 8 p.m. on Sunday in preparation for the storm.

Greater Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis, with a population of about 36 million people.

The typhoon was not expected to directly hit the capital, but strong winds and heavy rain were still feared from later Sunday and some businesses were already putting up shutters and hunkering down.

Trami, the 24th typhoon of the season, swept the southern islands of Okinawa and Kyushu on Sunday morning with winds gusts of up to 222 kilometers per hour (138 mph), according to the Meteorological Agency.

At landfall, the tropical cyclone remained classified as a “very strong” typhoon, the second-highest on the agency’s scale.

Trami also tore through the Okinawa region on Saturday, bringing winds strong enough to flip over cars. Several houses were flooded or damaged and 40 people on the island sustained minor injuries but no one was feared dead, local officials said.

Nationwide, authorities issued noncompulsory evacuation advisories to some 349,000 residents, while 300,000 households have lost power, according to NHK.

“We are strongly urging our residents to stay indoors because it is extremely dangerous to be outside now,” said Masaaki Tamaki, an official of Kagoshima’s disaster management section.

The Meteorological Agency issued a special warning of landslides and floods in Kagoshima and Chiba prefectures.

In the towns of Minami Osumi and Yakushima, both in Kagoshima Prefecture, hourly precipitation reached 120 millimeters.

The agency said the kind of heavy rain only seen once in half a century has been monitored on the island of Yakushima, in the southern part of Kagoshima Prefecture.

Violent gusts also blew away roof tiles on some houses in the city of Kochi on Shikoku Island. “There was a big ‘bang, bang.’ That woke me up,” a local elderly man in Kochi told NHK.

Trami is the latest in a string of extreme natural events in Japan, which has suffered typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and heat waves in recent months, claiming scores of lives and causing extensive damage.

Western regions are still recovering from the most powerful typhoon to strike the country in a quarter of a century in early September. Typhoon Jebi claimed 11 lives and shut down Kansai Airport, the region’s main air hub.

Deadly record rains also hit western Japan earlier this year, and the country sweltered through one of the hottest summers on record.

Also in September, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake rocked Hokkaido, setting off landslides and leaving more than 40 people dead.