Typhoon Tapah heads to north-east Japan, hundreds of flights disrupted

Palm trees sway from strong winds on the island of Jeju, South Korea, on Sept 22, 2019, as Typhoon Tapah approaches the country. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO/SEOUL (AP, BLOOMBERG) - A powerful typhoon was heading north-east to Japan's main island of Honshu on Sunday (Sept 22) after lashing parts of the country's southern islands with heavy rains and winds that caused flooding and some minor injuries.

Typhoon Tapah was passing near Nagasaki in southern Japan on Sunday afternoon after hitting other parts of southern Japan, including Okinawa, in the two previous days.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said the storm was moving north-east at a speed of 30kmh, with maximum wind speeds of 162kmh.

The agency warned of heavy rain, flooding and possible landslides through Monday in western Japan.

Hundreds of domestic flights in Japan were cancelled because of Typhoon Tapah, and the storm is expected to cause similar flight disruptions when it makes landfall in South Korea later on Sunday.

Airlines operating in Japan called off around 412 domestic flights as of 1pm on Sunday due to the typhoon, the national broadcaster NHK reported. And 359 South Korean domestic flights had been cancelled as of noon, Seoul time, Yonhap reported, citing the Korea Airports Corporation.

The storm disruptions in Japan led ANA Holdings to cancel 151 flights, while Japan Airlines called off 118, the two airline operators said around noon, Tokyo time.

The typhoon hit Okinawa last Friday and Saturday and left 18 people with minor injuries.

In Nobeoka City in Miyazaki prefecture, a tornado believed to have been triggered by the typhoon damaged at least one house and injured two people slightly. The winds blew a cargo container into a electricity tower, causing power loss to some train stations in the area.

The city postponed Sunday's entrance exam for city employees due to the typhoon.

The approaching typhoon also caused fears in parts of Chiba, near Tokyo, which was hit hard by another typhoon earlier this month and is still recovering from damage. That typhoon damaged many houses and electric poles, causing widespread blackouts in the prefecture, and triggering criticism and concern about ageing infrastructure systems in the country.

Clean-up and power restoration efforts continued on Sunday in parts of Chiba.

Tapah is expected to move up the strait between South Korea and Japan and make landfall in South Korea on Sunday, packing wind gusts of up to 126kmh, according to Korea's national weather agency.

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