TOKYO – A typhoon was lashing Japan on Saturday as the country headed into a holiday week, causing authorities to order the evacuation of half a million people living near swollen rivers and cancelling hundreds of flights.
Typhoon Halong also disrupted land traffic and injured at least six people as Japan began its annual “Obon” Buddhist holiday week.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a warning for heavy rain in Mie prefecture in central Japan, prompting two towns to order about 500,000 residents to evacuate due to a fear of flooding from swollen rivers. The agency said heavy rain in the area would continue overnight.
Strong winds left six people injured, one seriously, in Miyazaki prefecture in southern Japan. A woman in her 70s broke her ankle as a portable toilet booth fell on her while she was walking by.
More than 400 flights were cancelled due to the storm, stranding thousands of holidaymakers at airports around the country.
Halong, packing winds of up to 180 kilometres (110 miles) per hour, was approaching the southwestern island of Shikoku late Saturday.
The storm was expected to dump 70 centimetres (28 inches) of rain on Shikoku overnight, and 50-60 centimetres (20-25 inches) in western and central Japan, meteorological agency official Satoshi Ebihara said at a news conference. He warned of landslides and floods in those areas.
The agency predicted heavy rain in Tokyo on Sunday, though the storm was expected to veer off to the Sea of Japan before hitting the capital.
“It’s an abnormal situation that poses a serious danger,” Ebihara said, urging residents in affected areas to follow local authorities’ instructions for safe evacuation.