A powerful typhoon is barrelling towards Japan’s southern islands, bearing dangerous winds, as weather authorities warn of a “major disaster” in the region.
The Japan Meteorological Agency warned on Monday that Typhoon Maysak could bring with it storm surge, heavy rains, high waves and violent winds, potentially causing a “major disaster” in the Okinawa region.
The agency also called on residents to “evacuate to sturdy buildings before winds get stronger”.
Maysak is expected to gain further strength, with maximum winds of 252kmph (156.6 mph) as it closes in on the island from late at night, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said in a statement on Sunday.
A total of 180 flights to and from the Okinawa region had already been cancelled and many schools and public offices were closed from Monday afternoon, the Okinawa Times newspaper reported.
As of 5pm local time (08:00 GMT), the eye of the storm was about 190km (118 miles) south of Naha, Okinawa’s capital, travelling north-north-west at 35kmph (21.7 mph) with maximum sustained winds of 144kmph (89.6 mph) and gusts of 216kmph (134.2 mph), the agency said.
Forecasters were warning of flooding, mudslides and swollen rivers, as the storm is expected to unleash up to 80 millimetres of rainfall per hour on some parts of the island of Okinawa.
The agency forecast rainfall of up to 400 millimetres for Okinawa and up to 150 millimetres for the Amami Island region by late on Tuesday.
In 2019, Japan was hit by the most powerful typhoons to hit the country in six decades left as many as 36 people dead.
Typhoon Hagibis left the capital, Tokyo, relatively unscathed, but caused serious damage to surrounding regions, as rivers burst their banks and the torrential rain triggered landslides.