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Typhoon Vongfong Weakens After Hitting Japan

  • VOA News

Waves crash as Typhoon Vongfong approaches Japan's main islands while surfers try to ride a wave at Eguchihama Beach in Hioki, Kagoshima prefecture, Oct. 12, 2014.

Waves crash as Typhoon Vongfong approaches Japan's main islands while surfers try to ride a wave at Eguchihama Beach in Hioki, Kagoshima prefecture, Oct. 12, 2014.

Typhoon Vongfong battered the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Sunday, injuring more than 30 people and knocking out power before losing intensity and getting downgraded to a tropical storm.

Early Sunday, parts of Okinawa received more than six centimeters of rain within an hour while some parts of western areas of Japan's four main islands were forecast to receive total rainfall of over 50 centimeters.

The rains were forecast to intensify as the storm makes landfall on Monday in Kyushu and Honshu. Kyushu authorities told 150,000 people to evacuate as winds toppled trees and cut power to tens of thousands.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said Typhoon Vongfong could reach the Tokyo area by Tuesday.

About 210,000 people from 90,000 homes were ordered to evacuate in Okinawa, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) south of Tokyo, before it was hit by what was Japan's strongest storm this year.

Wind speeds weakened significantly on Sunday, after peaking on Saturday at 234 kilometers an hour (146 mph), which had made Vongfong into a “super typhoon.” The storm has winds of 180 kilometers per hour (110 miles) on Sunday.

Airlines, trains affected

Airlines JAL and ANA canceled more than 400 flights due to strong winds, while the bullet train was halted in Kyushu after the wind blew a plastic sheet onto the aerial wires of the line.

The storm is then expected to cut across the biggest of Japan's islands, Honshu, causing heavy rain in Tokyo, before exiting from the north coast, the weather agency said. Authorities issued landslide warnings.

West Japan Railway Co., which operates trains in central Japan in the area surrounding the ancient capital of Kyoto, said that some train services would be shut down starting Monday afternoon because of the typhoon, and that the disruptions could continue through Tuesday.

Vongfong, which means wasp in Cantonese, was following the path of Phanfone, a typhoon that slammed into Japan's main island early last week, disrupting transport and prompting evacuation advisories for hundreds of thousands of people. After Phanfone, 11 people were killed or missing.

The U.S. military on Okinawa, where last week's typhoon killed three U.S. airmen who were washed out at sea, instructed personnel and their families to remain indoors Sunday until strong winds and rain subsided.

Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

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