At least 2 killed as Typhoon Nanmadol barrels through Japan

Raging waters flow along the Sendai River in the wake of Typhoon Nanmadol in Isa, Kagoshima prefecture on Sept 19, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - A powerful typhoon barrelled through south-west Japan on Monday, leaving at least two dead as it unleashed torrential rains and hurricane-force winds, set off floods, and forced thousands to evacuate.

Typhoon Nanmadol made landfall on Sunday, as its eyewall - the most destructive part of a storm - arrived near Kagoshima city, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. It was packing gusts of up to 234 kmh and had already dumped up to 500mm of rain in less than 24 hours on parts of Kyushu island in the south-west.

At least two people were killed when the typhoon ripped through Kyushu, Kyodo News reported. One of those who died was a man found inside a flooded car. About 70 others were injured, according to national public broadcaster NHK.

The typhoon triggered landslides, ripped sidings off of buildings and downed electric lines, leaving about 340,000 homes in Kyushu without power as of noon on Monday.

A river in Kyushu’s Miyazaki prefecture overflowed, flooding fields and roads, footage from state broadcaster NHK showed.

Other videos showed a riverside house hanging over a torrent, roofs ripped off buildings and billboards toppled.

Nearly 10 million people were earlier ordered to evacuate from areas in southern and western Japan.

At least 20,000 people were spending the night in shelters in Kyushu's Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, where the JMA has issued a rare "special warning" - an alert that is given only when it forecasts conditions seen once in several decades.

Kyushu's entire bullet-train service was suspended, and hundreds of domestic flights were cancelled.

In Izumi town, in Kagoshima prefecture, 30-year-old Yasuta Yamaguchi said he spent the night at a local hotel to shelter from the typhoon.

"I came to the hotel to shelter myself because it was windy and I thought it was dangerous," he told AFP. "I didn't feel safe at home."

The JMA, meanwhile, has issued a flooding advisory for Tokyo and adjacent Kanagawa prefecture.

Meteorological officials previously warned that Nanmadol could be more damaging than Typhoon Jebi, which killed about a dozen people in Japan in 2018, and Typhoon Hagibis, the strongest storm to hit the country's mainland in decades, which caused widespread flooding and landslides in 2019 and killed about 100 people.

But damages appeared relatively limited as of mid-afternoon on Monday.

"The typhoon has all but disappeared today, and the rain and wind are also subsiding now," an official in charge of crisis management in Miyazaki's Saito city told AFP.

"But power is out in some places… We're also hearing from many residents that electrical wires have been severed and trees have been toppled," he said, declining to be named.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delayed a planned trip to New York for a session of the United Nations General Assembly by about a day, Kyodo said.

Nanmadol was projected to curve northeastward and trace almost the entire length of the main islands that make up Japan. It would probably head back to sea Wednesday or Thursday.

Japan is currently in its annual typhoon season. It sees about 20 typhoons a year.

Scientists say climate change is increasing the severity of typhoons and causing extreme weather such as heatwaves, droughts and flash floods to become more frequent and intense. BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AFP, NYTIMES

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