TOKYO - Super Typhoon Hinnamnor is approaching Japan's southerly Okinawan islands with hurricane-force winds that prompted the local authorities to order evacuations and airlines to cancel flights.
Okinawa's Miyakojima and Ishigaki cities instructed residents on Saturday to evacuate to shelters before winds intensified if they were unsure of their homes' integrity.
Japan Airlines said it cancelled 56 flights, affecting about 3,230 passengers, while ANA Holdings scrubbed 44 flights for Saturday and 22 for Sunday.
Japan's Skymark Airlines cancelled 14 flights on Saturday and nine for Sunday
Hinnamnor has maximum sustained winds of about 148kmh and gusts of around 212kmh, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Those speeds are expected to accelerate over the weekend, intensifying the danger from the winds.
Taiwan earlier Saturday issued a land warning.
China on Saturday also raised its emergency response for flood and typhoon control to level III, as Hinnamnor approaches the country’s eastern coastal areas and heads for landfall. China has a four-tier flood-control emergency response system, with level I being the most severe.
Hinnamnor, the 11th typhoon this year, is expected to make landfall in the coastal areas of the north-eastern part of Zhejiang province in eastern China, said the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
Working teams have been dispatched to Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces to assist and guide typhoon prevention and response work, it said.
The headquarters suggested that ships and boats should take shelter in harbours, while advising the relevant areas to take measures to prevent torrential floods and geological disasters.
Meanwhile, the Korea Meteorological Administration has warned that Hinnamnor could be one of the most destructive typhoons ever to hit that nation.
The worst has been forecast for Monday or Tuesday, when the weather system is expected to pound Jeju and batter the southern coastal cities, including Busan and Ulsan.
“We’ve never encountered a typhoon with this level of atmospheric pressure before, which is extremely worrisome because the degree of damage may be beyond our expectation,” analyst Woo Jin Kyu from the Korea Meteorological Administration said on Friday.
Extremely intense wind and rain could cause a typhoon surge and flooding, and the nation should be prepared to prevent any catastrophic damage, Mr Woo said.
Hinnamnor is forecast to be even more destructive than Typhoon Sarah in 1959, according to the country’s meteorological administration. That storm killed more than 600 people and injured 2,533, and caused 249 billion won in property damage, according to the National Archives of Korea.
State-owned utility Korea Electric Power said it has issued a warning as the super typhoon may disrupt the nation’s power transmission facilities and equipment.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power is also taking safety measures to minimise the impact on nuclear reactors that are densely located in the south-eastern part of the country.
South Gyeongsang province, near Busan, said all of its schools will switch to virtual classes. BLOOMBERG, XINHUA