Disaster-hit Japan braces for powerful typhoon

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A powerful typhoon hurtled towards Japan Saturday, with western areas recently devastated by floods and landslides in the storm’s cross-hairs. Typhoon Jongdari, packing winds of up to 180 kilometers (110 miles) an hour, is forecast to make landfall on the country’s main island on Saturday night or early Sunday, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency.

The storm, currently some 400 kilometers southeast of Tokyo, is expected to barrel towards the western Chugoku region Sunday, where record rainfall earlier this month unleashed flooding and landslides, killing around 220 people.

“We have not issued evacuation advisories, but we are fully ready 24 hours a day to evacuate residents,”

Authorities are warning of heavy rain, landslides, strong winds and high waves, and urging people to consider early evacuation. “We want people especially in the downpour-hit regions to pay close attention to evacuation advisories,” meteorological agency official Minako Sakurai told reporters.

Read more: Japan rescuers go house to house as flood toll hits 156

More than 150 domestic flights have been canceled so far because of Typhoon Jongdari, news reports said. The flooding in the Chugoku region was Japan’s worst weather-related disaster in decades, and many residents of affected areas are still living in shelters or damaged homes.

“We have not issued evacuation advisories, but we are fully ready 24 hours a day to evacuate residents,” Tadahiko Mizushima, an official of Okayama prefecture in Chugoku, told AFP. “We are paying special attention to the areas where restoration of river banks is underway as it would be the first heavy rain since the disaster.”

Read more: Japan heatwave kills over a dozen, 12,000 rushed to hospital

Officials are particularly cautious after the deadly downpours because many people did not heed evacuation orders and became trapped. Some critics said the orders were issued too late. Japan is now in typhoon season and is regularly struck by major storm systems during the summer and autumn.

© Agence France-Presse

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