Millions urged to evacuate as Typhoon Nanmadol makes landfall

Millions urged to evacuate as Typhoon Nanmadol makes landfall

A man rides a bicycle through torrents and winds in the city of Miyazaki after Typhoon Nanmadol hit Japan

A man rides a bicycle through torrents and winds in the city of Miyazaki after Typhoon Nanmadol hit Japan

One of the biggest typhoons ever to hit Japan has made landfall on the southern island of Kyushu.

Typhoon Nanmadol has brought winds of at least 180 km/h (112 mph) and some areas may see 500 mm (20 inches) of rain on Sunday and Monday.

At least four million people have been told to evacuate their homes.

Widespread flooding and landslides are expected, while train services, ferries and hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

The typhoon made landfall near the city of Kagoshima, on the southern tip of Kyushu, on Sunday morning.

Kyushu is the southernmost of the four islands that make up the main body of Japan and has a population of over 13 million people.

Authorities had issued a “special alert” for the island, the first ever outside Okinawa Prefecture, which is made up of Japan’s smallest, outlying islands in the East China Sea, the Japan Times reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Nanmadol would bring torrential rain, storm surges along the coast and winds so strong that houses could collapse.

An official in the city of Izumi said conditions on Sunday afternoon had deteriorated rapidly.

“The wind has become extremely strong. The rain is also falling heavily,” he told AFP news agency. “It’s a complete white out. Visibility is almost zero.”

The typhoon is now moving north across Kyushu, dumping massive amounts of rain on the mountainous center of the island.

It is expected to travel through central Japan towards Tokyo in the coming days and retain much of its strength as it moves.

The biggest threat to life and property is from the rain, which is already causing rivers to rise and could trigger landslides and mudslides.

People across Kyushu have been told to seek shelter in shelters, but evacuation warnings are not mandatory and authorities have previously struggled to get people to move to shelter ahead of extreme weather.

By Sunday afternoon, utility companies said nearly 200,000 homes were without power.

In a statement, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told people to “evacuate without hesitation if they feel they are in danger in any way”.

“Urge [everyone] to avoid going near places that pose potential dangers, such as rivers and other waterways or places at risk of landslides,” he said.

“It is extremely dangerous to evacuate at night. I urge the public to evacuate to a safe location before nightfall.”

Nanmadol is the 14th Pacific typhoon this season and by far the largest to hit Japan.

Speaking on Saturday, a Japan Meteorological Agency official said it had the potential to be worse than both Typhoon Jebi in 2018, which left 14 dead, and Typhoon Hagibis, which caused widespread power outages in 2019.

The country is well prepared to deal with such storms, but scientists say climate change is making them bigger and more destructive.

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