Voters brave conditions as typhoon threat looms

Strong winds in Tokyo yesterday, near where Typhoon Lan is set to make landfall today. The storm disrupted voting in some parts of Japan yesterday and killed two people. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Typhoon Lan, a powerful storm that drenched most of Japan with rain and disrupted voting in some areas yesterday, is expected to make landfall near Tokyo and cause public transport chaos this morning.

Described as "very large and very strong" by Japan's meteorological agency, Typhoon Lan lashed large areas of the Japanese archipelago with heavy rain and strong winds yesterday.

Voting was delayed by around 20 minutes in Kochi in western Japan when landslides blocked a road, while several polling stations closed earlier than scheduled.

Ferries to a remote island in the west were cancelled due to high waves, forcing election officials to suspend the counting of votes there.

The typhoon appeared to have weakened slightly from its peak, but was still a powerful storm that could pound parts of Japan with more than 80mm of rain an hour, said an official from the meteorological agency.

The storm is set to make landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu, near Tokyo, possibly early today, by which time it would likely have weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 2 storm.

Over the weekend, more than 70,000 households in various parts of Japan were advised to evacuate, with over 5,000 ordered to do so, NHK public television said.

Several local governments in Osaka and other prefectures issued evacuation advisories, urging thousands of residents living near the coast, rivers and hillsides to move to shelters.

"I live alone and at night it's scary, so I came here as early as I could," an elderly woman told NHK at an evacuation centre in western Japan.

Strong winds forced airline companies to ground more than 420 flights, while some train and ferry services in western Japan were cancelled, local media said.

Television footage showed rescuers tugging a rubber boat carrying an elderly woman in a residential area in Chiba, south-east of Tokyo, as a flooded river engulfed the area.

At least two people were killed. One man died after scaffolding collapsed in high winds and a fisherman was killed as he tended to his boat, Kyodo news agency said. There were a handful of minor injuries.

Toyota Motor said it would suspend operations at all domestic plants today.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his minister in charge of disasters to be ready to mobilise rescue and evacuation forces, including troops.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline Voters brave conditions as typhoon threat looms. Subscribe