Thousands of people evacuated their homes and went to shelters in southwestern Japan yesterday, with the approach of Typhoon Nanmadol, which prompted the authorities to issue evacuation orders for more than four million residents.
The Japan Meteorological Agency had issued a “special warning” for the Kagoshima region in the south of the island of Kyushu, a warning that is issued only when the agency expects weather conditions in the country once in decades.
Yesterday morning, heavy rains fell and strong winds blew in the island of Kyushu in the south of the Japanese archipelago, and electricity was cut off for about 98,000 homes in Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Miyazaki.
Train services, flights and ferries were suspended, to return to work after the storm subsided, and some stores of basic materials that usually remain open and serve as a lifeline in disasters were closed.
“Please stay away from dangerous places, and please leave your homes if you feel the slightest danger,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tweeted after a cabinet session on the typhoon. “It would be dangerous to evacuate at night,” he said. Please go to a safe place in the light of day.”
The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that the region could face “unprecedented” risks from wind and rain.
And Saturday, the head of the weather forecast unit at the agency, Ryota Korora, told reporters: “The utmost caution must be exercised,” warning that the upcoming hurricane is “very dangerous.”
“The winds will be so strong that some houses may collapse,” Korora told reporters, warning of floods and landslides.
The official NHK media network reported that evacuation orders had been issued to more than four million people in Kyushu, and officials in Kagoshima and Miyazaki said: “The number of those who have been transferred to shelters, by yesterday afternoon, exceeded 15,000.”
Evacuation orders include recommendations for residents to move to shelters or places that can withstand severe weather conditions. But eviction orders are not binding in Japan and authorities have previously had difficulties convincing residents to head to shelters quickly enough.
Korora urged residents to evacuate their homes before the storm intensified and stressed the need to take the necessary precautions, especially for residents of sturdy buildings.
“Please move to sturdy buildings before the strong winds start blowing, and stay away from windows even inside sturdy buildings,” Korora said.
By yesterday morning, high-speed trains, as well as local trains, had stopped operating, and the official NHK media network reported that hundreds of flights had been cancelled.
And the Japan Meteorological Agency stated that “the southern part of the Kyushu region may witness violent winds, strong waves and high tides,” stressing that the severity of these phenomena will be “unprecedented”, and urged residents to exercise “the utmost caution.”
An official in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, said the situation was rapidly deteriorating.
“The winds have become very strong,” he told AFP. It’s raining heavily,” he said, adding, “Visibility outside is almost non-existent.” In the port city of Minamata in the Kyushu region, reliable fishing boats were tampered with for safety reasons, and sea spray and showers fell on the pier.
The typhoon is expected to bring heavy rains in Kyushu, and then turn to the northeast to hit the morning of the day after tomorrow, the territory of Japan’s largest island.
The current season is typhoon season in Japan, which experiences about 20 similar storms every year, and torrential rains cause landslides or floods. In 2019, typhoon “Hagibis” hit Japan, while it was hosting the Rugby World Cup, and killed more than 100 people.
A year ago, Typhoon Jebi closed the Kansai Airport in Osaka and killed 14 people.
Floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the annual rainy season in 2018.
Scientists point out that climate change leads to an increase in the intensity of storms, temperatures, floods and droughts.
• Heavy rains fell and strong winds blew in the island of Kyushu in the south of the Japanese archipelago, and electricity was cut off for about 98,000 homes in Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Miyazaki.
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