Powerful typhoon triggers blackout in southern Japan

Cars drive past during a blackout caused by Typhoon Faxai in Kisarazu, Chiba prefecture, Japan. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon hit Japan’s southern Okinawa islands Saturday, cutting power to more than 15,000 homes and grounding hundreds of flights.

Tapah – packing wind gusts of up to 180km/h – is now moving north and is expected to progress through the sea separating South Korea and western Japan.

The country’s weather bureau issued warnings of heavy rains, floods and high tides, while the Okinawa prefectural government issued an evacuation advisory to some 334,000 people.

At least 18 people were injured, according to officials, while local utility company Okinawa Electric said some 9,200 households were still without power as of 7.45pm, down from 17,000 homes earlier in the day.

Tapah follows on the trail of Typhoon Faxai, which barrelled through Tokyo earlier this month, packing record winds that brought down power lines, brought travel chaos and disrupted Rugby World Cup preparations.

It resulted in a lengthy blackout on the outskirts of Tokyo that left tens of thousands of people without power for more than a week.