Huge storms pound coasts of India and Japan

A couple watches huge wave at a cape in Yomitan Village, Japan's southern island of Okinawa Sunday. A powerful typhoon poured heavy rains over Okinawa, the second severe storm to hit in a week. Picture: AP

Heavy rain and gusts have ripped through a large swathe of India’s eastern seaboard, uprooting trees and snapping power cables as a powerful cyclone swept through the Bay of Bengal, one of two storms pounding Asia.

In Japan, at least 35 people have been reported injured as Typhoon Vongfong, packing winds of up to 110 miles per hour, unleashed rain and gusts on Okinawa and was aiming at the next island of Kyushu, where authorities told 150,000 people to evacuate. At least two people were reported dead in India. Cyclone Hudhud, described as “very severe” by India’s meteorological department, could pack winds of 120 miles per hour when it makes landfall later.

The cyclone is expected to hit near the city of Visakhapatnam, one of the largest cities in southern India and a major naval base.

At least 400,000 people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states as authorities aimed for zero casualties. Hundreds of shelters have been set up to house the evacuees. Hundreds of rescuers were also spread across the two states that are expected to take the brunt of the cyclone.

Electricity lines have been disconnected in separate parts of Andhra Pradesh to avoid electrocutions, Arvind Kumar, a relief and rescue official told reporters.

Four districts in Andhra Pradesh state that are home to more than 14 million people — Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari — are likely to be worst hit.

The Indian Ocean is a cyclone hot spot. Of the 35 deadliest storms in recorded history, 27 have come through the Bay of Bengal – and have landed in either India or Bangladesh.

While India has a poor record of response to natural calamities, it managed last October to safely evacuate nearly a million people from the path of Cyclone Phailin.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said Typhoon Vongfong could reach the Tokyo area by Tuesday, gradually losing strength as it moves up the archipelago.


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