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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:17, September 06, 2005
Typhoon Nabi batters SW Japan
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A typhoon of similar strength to Hurricane Katrina lashed southwestern Japan with torrential rains and high winds yesterday, cutting power supplies and disrupting transport and oil refineries.

Nabi was 180 kilometres south of the tiny southern Japanese island of Yakushima at 3 pm (0600 GMT), the Meteorological Agency said. Winds were gusting up to 160 kilometres an hour at the centre of the typhoon, but the storm was expected to weaken slightly as it passes over cooler water.

The Tropical Storm Risk website classified Nabi as a Category 4 storm on an ascending scale of 1 to 5, the same category as Katrina, which hit the US Gulf Coast last week.

Typhoon Nabi, whose name means "butterfly" in Korean, was travelling north-northwest at 15 kilometres an hour, heading directly for the densely populated southern island of Kyushu.

The Meteorological Agency expects Nabi to swerve to the east over the next 24 hours, putting it on course to batter much of Japan and southern and eastern parts of South Korea.

Television pictures showed coastal areas of Amami Oshima being engulfed by waves that national broadcaster NHK said were up to 9 metres high.

Local government officials on Kyushu urged people to be alert.

Hundreds of flights in and out of Kyushu were cancelled yesterday, NHK said. Trains were also cancelled and expressways closed in southern parts of the island. Nearly 20,000 households were without electricity on Kyushu, NHK said.

Nabi has sparked thunderstorms in Tokyo, where more than 110 mm of rain fell in an hour in some areas late on Sunday. Two men were killed - one drowned and one was struck by lightning - in areas close to the capital, police said.

Thousands of households in or near Tokyo were flooded and lost power, while some highways were closed and trains delayed. Some bank cash machines were also out of action due to power outages.

Oil refiners

Japanese oil refiners suspended waterborne operations at some of their facilities yesterday, refinery spokesmen said.

Idemitsu Kosan Co, Japan's third-biggest refiner, said it had halted waterborne shipments of refined products at its terminals in Okinawa and Kagoshima, both located in southern Japan, because of the storm.

Operations at Idemitsu's refinery facilities, with a total capacity of 640,000 barrels per day, were unaffected, a company spokesman said.

Japan Energy, the refining unit of Nippon Mining Holdings Inc, also suspended tanker operations at its 200,200 bpd facility in Mizushima, western Japan.

Kyushu Oil Co suspended waterborne operations at its 155,000-bpd Oita refinery in southwestern Japan, a company spokeswoman said.

The large scale of the storm and the low speed at which it was moving mean it would affect Japan for a relatively long time, possibly causing extensive damage, a Meteorological Agency official said.

Source: China Daily


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