Seven million residents in Japan have been evacuated or urged to seek shelter as officials warned of record rainfall and gusts powerful enough to flip cars.
Super Typhoon Haishen weakened over the weekend from a Category 5 storm as it neared the mainland of Japan, and moved further out to sea, but is still “extremely strong” according to Japan Today. The weather agency sent a warning to residents to practice “most serious caution” and warned of a record amount of rainfall, destructive wind gusts, large waves and surging tides in coastal areas. Those in low-lying areas were warned of possible widespread flooding, especially around rivers.
The authorities issued an evacuation order for 1.8 million people in the affected area of Kyushu, where the storm was forecast to hit on Monday morning. Lower level orders were issued to another 5.6 million residents according to reports.
VIRUS FEARS OVER TYPHOON SHELTERS
In Japan, evacuation orders aren’t compulsory but residents are urged to follow them. People were also urged to avoid crowding into shelters due to the risk of possible spread of COVID-19. Some shelters reportedly had to turn people away to avoid crowding. Other evacuees checked into hotels, according to AFP.
Supermarket shelves were stripped before Typhoon Haishen made landfall on the mainland in the country, as shops were forced to close due to the storm.
At about 11pm on Sunday, the typhoon neared Makurazaki city in southern Japan, with wind gusts reaching up to 216km/h. Footage from Amami Oshima, an island southwest of mainland Japan, showed strong winds bending palm trees and lashing the sea.
“Record-level rainfall is expected. It may cause landslides or it could cause even large rivers to flood,” said Yoshihisa Nakamoto, the director of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s forecast division.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned there was a major risk posed by the storm.
“Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,” Mr Abe said at an emergency cabinet meeting. He said there was also a risk of landslides.
The typhoon is the second to lash Japan in recent days and has caused the Japanese coastguard to suspend its search for sailors missing from Gulf Livestock 1.
The ship was carrying 43 crew and almost 6000 cows when it was hit by Typhoon Maysak last week. The ship suffered engine failure before capsizing after being hit by a freak wave.
SOUTH KOREA ALSO IN DANGER
The typhoon is forecast to make landfall in the South Korean city of Busan on Monday morning. The country’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters raised its alert to level four – the highest possible warning level on Sunday night.
The city also raised its landslide warning to the highest possible warning.