Tens of thousands of people were advised to evacuate across Japan as a powerful typhoon struck the country on its election day on Sunday. Reports state hundreds of flights have been cancelled and key train services were disrupted as the typhoon headed towards the coast, lashing several regions with heavy rain and strong winds.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Typhoon Lan, classified as an intense Category 4 storm by the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site, was headed towards the northeast Japan at 40 kph on Sunday afternoon, according to Reuters reports.
A JMA official said that although Lan seems to be weakening slightly from its peak, it still is a powerful storm which could severely hit parts of Japan with more than 80 mm (3 inches) of rain an hour.
Reports state that the storm is set to make landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu, possibly near Tokyo, early on Monday.
"It will make landfall as a strong typhoon," the official said. "The wind and rain will grow stronger as the night goes on, so take measures as needed as early as possible, preferably before it gets dark." Wind gusts of up to 162 kph (100 mph) were possible across central and eastern Japan early on Monday, the JMA added.
According to reports, some injuries were reported which were caused by falls in the strong wind, however all were minor wounds. Japan's broadcaster NHK issued warnings for heavy rains and flooding on the Pacific side of Japan including the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The storm is likely to be downgraded to Category 3 by Sunday night, reports state.
The NHK public television said that more than 700,000 households were advised to evacuate while 5,000 were ordered to leave the premises for their own safety.
"I live alone and at night it's scary, so I came here as early as I could," one elderly woman told NHK at a evacuation centre in western Japan.