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Disaster-hit Japan braces for powerful typhoon

Typhoon Jongdari, packing winds of up to 180 kilometres (110 miles) an hour, is forecast to make landfall on the country’s main island on Saturday night or early Sunday, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency. The storm, currently some 400 kilometres southeast of Tokyo, is expected to barrel towards the western Chugoku region tomorrow, where record rainfall earlier this month unleashed flooding and landslides, killing around 220 people.

Authorities are warning of heavy rain, landslides, strong winds and high waves, and urging people to consider early evacuation. “We want people especially in the downpour-hit regions to pay close attention to evacuation advisories,” meteorological agency official Minako Sakurai told reporters. More than 150 domestic flights have been cancelled so far because of Typhoon Jongdari, news reports said. The flooding in the Chugoku region was Japan’s worst weather-related disaster in decades, and many residents of affected areas are still living in shelters or damaged homes.

“We have not issued evacuation advisories, but we are fully ready 24 hours a day to evacuate residents,” Tadahiko Mizushima, an official of Okayama prefecture in Chugoku, told AFP. “We are paying special attention to the areas where restoration of river banks is under way as it would be the first heavy rain since the disaster.” Officials are particularly cautious after the deadly downpours because many people did not heed evacuation orders and became trapped. Some critics said the orders were issued too late. Japan is now in typhoon season, and is regularly struck by major storm systems during the summer and autumn.

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