Super typhoon Nanmadol bears down on Japan’s Kyushu island

TOKYO – Typhoon Nanmadol bore down on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu on Sunday with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warning of gales and high waves.

The 14th typhoon of the season, which has weakened as it approaches Kyushu, is bringing record rainfall, the JMA said, warning of the risk of overflowing rivers.

Southern Kyushu could receive 400mm (16 inches) of rain over the next 24 hours and wind gusts of up to 235km per hour (145 miles per hour) on Sunday, while the central Tokai region could get 300mm (12 inches) of rain, the agency forecast.

Thousands of people were in shelters in south-western Japan on Sunday as the powerful Nanmadol churned towards the region, prompting the authorities to urge nearly three million residents to evacuate.

By Sunday morning, 25,680 households in Kagoshima and neighbouring Miyazaki were already without power, while regional train services, flights and ferry runs were cancelled until the passage of the storm, local utilities and transport services said.

“Maximum caution is required,” Mr Ryuta Kurora, head of the JMA’s forecast unit said on Saturday. “It’s a very dangerous typhoon.”

“The wind will be so fierce that some houses might collapse,” Mr Kurora told reporters, also warning of flooding and landslides.

So far, 2.9 million residents in Kyushu have been issued with evacuation warnings, according to the government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, and Kagoshima officials said more than 8,500 people were already in local shelters by Sunday morning.

The evacuation warnings call on people to move to shelter or alternative accommodation that can withstand extreme weather.

But they are not mandatory, and during past extreme weather events, the authorities have struggled to convince residents to take shelter quickly enough.