Hundreds of flights, train services cancelled as powerful storm lashes Japan

A man making his way amid strong wind caused by severe tropical storm Krosa, in Miyazaki, Japan, on Aug 14, 2019.
A man making his way amid strong wind caused by severe tropical storm Krosa, in Miyazaki, Japan, on Aug 14, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (DPA, AFP) - Hundreds of flights and many train services were cancelled on Thursday (Aug 15) as a powerful tropical storm pummelled western Japan with devastating winds and torrential rain.

The severe tropical storm - one notch below a typhoon - prompted warnings of landslides and flooding, and sparked evacuation advisories and travel chaos at a peak holiday period.

Krosa was edging towards the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu in the morning, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Forecasters warned that Krosa could dump dangerous amounts of rain in some regions and urged residents to stay vigilant against mudslides, swollen rivers and high waves.

The storm caused the cancellation of more than 600 flights to and from cities in western Japan and a large number of train services in western Japan were also cancelled, leaving travellers stranded at the height of the summer holiday season, broadcaster NHK reported.

Ferries connecting the southern Shikoku island and other parts of Japan were also cancelled as high waves lashed the coast.

The authorities issued a voluntary evacuation advisory to around 550,000 people in the storm's path and Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said four people had suffered minor injuries, with one person more seriously hurt.

The agency also said that a party of 18 people including children got stranded during a barbecue in a valley when the river rose rapidly. They have since been evacuated to higher ground and should be rescued later on Thursday.

As of 11am local time (10am Singapore time), the eye of the storm was near the city of Yawatahama on Shikoku, travelling north at 30km per hour.

It was recording maximum sustained winds of 108km per hour and gusts of 162km per hour, according to the agency.

Rainfall of up to 800mm is forecast for Shikoku and up to 500mm for the Tokai and Kinki regions by Friday morning, the agency said.

In July 2018, torrential rains in western Japan triggered floods and landslides, killing more than 220 people – the highest number of deaths from a single weather event in three decades.