Strongest typhoon in quarter century hits Japan

Japan’s weather agency has issued warnings about possible landslides, flooding and violent winds, as well as high tides, lightning and tornadoes in a swath of western Japan including the major cities of Osaka and Kyoto. (Kyodo News via AP)
Updated 04 September 2018

Strongest typhoon in quarter century hits Japan

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged people to ‘evacuate early’ and ordered his government to take all necessary measures to protect residents.
  • Abe instructed his cabinet to ‘take all measures possible’

TOKYO: The strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years made landfall Tuesday, the country’s weather agency said, bringing violent winds and heavy rainfall that prompted evacuation warnings.
Typhoon Jebi, packing winds of up to 216 kilometers (135 miles) per hour, made landfall around midday in western Japan near areas still recovering from deadly record rains earlier this summer.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged people to “evacuate early” and ordered his government to take all necessary measures to protect residents.
Japan’s weather agency has issued warnings about possible landslides, flooding and violent winds, as well as high tides, lightning and tornadoes in a swath of western Japan including the major cities of Osaka and Kyoto.
With winds of up to 162 kilometers (100 miles) per hour at its center, Jebi is classed as a “very strong” typhoon, the weather agency’s chief forecaster Ryuta Kurora said.
“This is (the strongest) since 1993.”
In the hours before the storm made landfall, Shikoku, one of four Japanese main islands, was already experiencing “violent storms and the storms will get stronger and stronger,” he added.
As the storm approached, Abe called a disaster response meeting and canceled a trip to western Japan.

“I urge the Japanese people to take action to protect your lives, including preparing and evacuating early,” he said.
He instructed his cabinet to “take all measures possible.”
Local media warned that the wind speeds Jebi is packing are strong enough to bring down traditional-style wooden houses and power poles, and urged people in affected areas to avoid non-essential travel.
Evacuation advisories have been issued for more than 300,000 people in western Japan — including 280,000 in the port city of Kobe — with local officials setting up some 1,500 shelters, the central and local governments said in statements.
Primary and middle schools in affected areas are closed for safety reasons, while regional businesses also reacted quickly, with a major railway firm and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka shutting down for Tuesday.
Nearly 600 flights were canceled, including several international flights departing and arriving at Nagoya and Osaka, along with ferries connecting ports in western Japan.
Jebi has a similar trajectory to Typhoon Cimaron, which made landfall on August 23, disrupting transport links but causing limited damage and few injuries.
Japan is currently in its annual typhoon season, and is regularly struck by major storm systems during the summer and autumn.
The country has been sweating through a record, deadly heatwave that was preceded by record rainfall in parts of western and central Japan that killed over 200 people.


700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

Updated 33 min 39 sec ago

700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

  • Indian authorities ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India
  • Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade

NEW DELHI: Almost 700 tons of ammonium nitrate, the substance that caused the mega-explosion in Lebanon, has been stuck in an Indian port since 2015, officials confirmed.
At least 153 people died and more than 5,000 were injured when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate languishing for years in Beirut’s port caused a colossal blast.
Indian authorities afterwards ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India.
Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade.
The local customs department on Thursday sought to allay concerns, saying that the chemicals posed no danger and that an auction process to sell it off was under way.
“The seized chemical is securely stored and the safety of the cargo and public is ensured considering the hazardous nature of the substance,” a statement said.
Ammonium nitrate is an odourless crystalline salt that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades.
When combined with fuel oils, it creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also in homemade bombs such as those used in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.
Many European Union nations require ammonium nitrate to be mixed with calcium carbonate to make a safer compound.
Industrial disasters are common in India. In May, styrene gas leaked from a factory in southern India, killing 15 people.
In 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, killing 3,500 people — and thousands more in the years afterwards — in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.