Japan advises mass evacuations as powerful storm Krosa looms


Parts of western Japan were hit with heavy rainfall on Thursday as Krosa made its way to the coast. Krosa, labeled a severe tropical storm — one step below a typhoon — was headed towards the island of Shikoku with sustained winds of up to 108 kilometers per hour (67 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 162 kilometers per hour.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said landfall was likely in the early afternoon.

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Authorities issued an evacuation advisory to more than 400,000 people in the storm's direct path. "Given the predictions of record rains and high winds, we'd like to ask people in the affected areas to avoid going outside if they can, and to make early preparations to evacuate if needed according to directions of the local authorities, Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.

Eighteen people, including a child, became stranded during a barbecue in a valley on Wednesday when a river rose suddenly. They were forced to evacuate to higher ground and were due to be rescued Thursday.

Travel disruptions

Krosa has sparked travel chaos as the end of the country's Obon summer holiday period.

More than 600 domestic flights were canceled and bullet train services were halted or significantly reduced in western Japan. Ferries connecting Shikoku island to other parts of the country were also canceled due to high waves caused by the storm.

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Krosa weakened significantly earlier this week when it stalled in the Pacific Ocean. However, the storm has an unusually large eye, which means it is likely to dump rain over a wide area. It is also slow-moving, so the rain could last for an extended period of time.

More than 200 people died last year in Japan from torrential rains and flooding.

dr/kl (Reuters, AFP)

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