Typhoon Trami batters Japan

A POWERFUL typhoon pummelled Japan’s southern island of Okinawa Saturday, injuring at least five, as weather officials warned the storm would rip through the Japanese archipelago this weekend.

Category Two Typhoon Trami, packing maximum gusts of 216 kilometres per hour near its centre, was forecast to hit the mainland early Sunday and could cause extreme weather across the country into Monday.

Television footage showed branches ripped from trees by strong winds blocking a main street in Naha, with massive waves splashing on breakwaters on a remote island in the region and torrential horizontal rain.

Some 600 people evacuated to shelters in Okinawa, about 1000km southwest of Tokyo, and electricity was cut to more than 121,000 homes, public broadcaster NHK said.

Five people suffered injuries in storm-related accidents in Okinawa, but no one was feared dead, local officials said.

“The number may rise as we are still collecting information,” said Motoki Minei, an official at the island’s disaster-management office.

“We are urging our residents to stay vigilant against the typhoon,” he told AFP.

Trami also caused power outages in more than 30 towns in Miyakojima island, according to public broadcaster NHK.

NHK also said airlines had cancelled more than 380 flights

The weather agency warned people across Japan to be on alert for “violent winds, high waves, heavy rain.”

After raking the outlying islands, the typhoon is forecast to pick up speed and approach western Japan on Sunday, remaining very strong as it barrels over the mainland.

Fishermen in Kagoshima bay, where the typhoon is expected to make landfall, were already making preparations, tying down their boats as Trami approached.

Angler Masakazu Hirase told AFP: “It’s dreadful because we already know there’s another typhoon after this one but you cannot compete with nature. We do what we can to limit the damage.” If the forecast holds, it will be the latest in a series of extreme natural events to strike Japan.

Churning north across Okinawa on Saturday, Trami is then predicted to move across the islands of Kyushu and the main island of Honshu on Sunday.

This path is similar to that taken by Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years, in early September.

Western parts of Japan are still recovering from the storm, which claimed 11 lives and shut down the main regional airport.

Deadly record rains also hit western Japan earlier this year and the country sweltered through one of the hottest summers on record.

Also in September, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake rocked the northern island of Hokkaido, sparking landslides and leaving more than 40 people dead.

MORE: Tsunami and earthquakes rock Indonesia

Meanwhile a powerful earthquake and tsunami have hit Indonesia’s central Sulawesi, claiming dozens of victims as rescuers race to reach the region.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a press conference “many victims” were still to be accounted for.

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