Thousands urged to evacuate as typhoon hits Japan

Tokyo, July 17: Powerful Typhoon Nangka was barrelling towards the Japanese mainland early today after killing at least two people on the island of Shikoku as authorities urged more than 350,000 residents to evacuate.

Nangka, which overnight was packing gusts up to 185 kilometres (115 miles) per hour, made landfall near Cape Muroto on Shikoku, one of the country's main islands, around 11:00 pm  yesterday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

By shortly before 6:00 am local time today the storm had passed over most of Shikoku and was moving north-northwest at 20 kilometres an hour, set to lash the main island of Honshu before passing into the Sea of Japan, according to sources.

It weakened overnight, with gusts early yesterday of 150 km per hour.

Torrential rain swept Shikoku region from yesterday afternoon, and the region was expected to be hammered by violent, thunderous winds.

The weather agency has issued warnings for flooding, gale-force winds, landslides and high waves in southern Japan.

Local authorities urged at least 367,800 people in the storm's path to evacuate, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Kyodo, citing police, said the two men who died were a 71-year-old who was trying to reinforce window glass and an 85-year-old who had apparently gone out to check on farmland, both in Hyogo prefecture.

Earlier reports had said at least 17 people were also injured in the storm.

Nangka, Malaysian for jackfruit, forced carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to cancel more than 177 domestic flights. Both, along with other airlines, have also cancelled dozens of flights today.

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