News24

Storm brings travel chaos to Japan

2012-04-03 12:01

Tokyo - A typhoon-strength storm brought travel chaos to Japan on Tuesday, as violent winds and rain left tens of thousands of people stranded.

Violent gusts up to 100km/h were expected in the east of the country, including Tokyo, with coastal areas likely seeing even stronger winds, Japan's weather agency said.

Over 240 flights were grounded and train services were suspended.

Forecasters said an expanding low pressure system in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) was forcing a cold front over the country, where it was bringing heavy rains and strong winds.

"This is like the core of a typhoon, but it is staying for a long time, whereas a typhoon usually moves rather quickly," a spokesperson for the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

"Winds as strong as this are very rare," he said.

The meteorological agency said on its website the strong winds would move northwards into Wednesday, producing waves up to 10m high.

"In particular, ferocious winds are expected at sea [in the north] on the Sea of Japan side. Please be extremely wary of violent winds and high waves."

The agency also warned heavy rain could trigger landslides and flooding.

Japan Airlines cancelled 160 domestic flights, affecting 23 700 passengers, while international flights experienced minor delays.

All Nippon Airways cancelled 83 domestic flights, affecting 8 900 people.

East Japan Railways, which operates a vast train network in the eastern and northern regions, including Tokyo, cancelled a number of long-distance services.

The nation's main bullet train, linking Tokyo and western city of Osaka, was experiencing delays, but was running as of early afternoon.

A number of trucks were toppled by the winds, creating localised traffic jams in central Toyama prefecture.

National broadcaster NHK said 17 people in 10 different prefectures had been reported injured.