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Powerful typhoon makes landfall in western Japan

High waves triggered by Typhoon Cimaron crash against the coast of Aki, Kochi Prefecture, western Japan, on Aug. 23, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A powerful typhoon made landfall in western Japan on Thursday night, bringing downpours to a region already reeling from deadly flooding and landslides last month.

    Typhoon Cimaron moved northward to hit the southern part of Tokushima Prefecture around 9 p.m. and is expected to cross the Japanese archipelago and reach the Sea of Japan by early Friday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

    The weather agency warned of gusts, high waves and heavy rain even after the typhoon passes and airlines decided to cancel over 350 flights on Thursday as well as over 60 flights on Friday to and from airports in western Japan.

    Railway operators also halted some services including shinkansen bullet trains on Thursday. Many companies based in western Japan allowed employees to go home early as a precautionary measure, while some department stores closed early.

    On Wednesday morning, three university students went missing on the coast of the central Japan city of Shizuoka. Rescuers will continue searching the area, believing they may have been washed away by high waves.

    Cimaron is the second typhoon to approach the Japanese archipelago this week. Combined with Typhoon Soulik, which passed near southwestern Japan earlier this week, total rainfall is expected to hit 1,000 millimeters in some areas, according to the weather agency.

    As of 8 p.m., Cimaron was located around 50 kilometers south-southwest of Anan city in Tokushima and traveling at a speed of about 35 km per hour. It was packing winds of up to 198 kph at its center with an atmospheric pressure of 965 hectopascals.

    "I want the government to take coordinated measures to prevent damage as much as possible such as through early evacuations," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of the disaster response headquarters.

    In the town of Saka in Hiroshima Prefecture, residents expressed concern about the approaching typhoon as they continued to remove mud from homes and roads brought by heavy rain and landslides that devastated western Japan in July.

    "We have to proceed (with the recovery effort) by watching weather forecasts" carefully, a 73-year-old man said.

    The weather agency is forecasting rain of up to 500 mm in the Shikoku and Kinki regions of western Japan in the 24-hour period through 6 p.m. Friday.

    The heavy rain brought by the two typhoons has raised concern about landslides and swollen rivers. Since Monday, more than 400 mm of rain has been recorded in Kochi and Kagoshima prefectures, with the agency warning of landslides in the northern Kyushu region.

    A number of typhoons have quickly developed this year. Between Aug. 12 and 16, typhoons formed for five days in a row for the first time, according to the weather agency.

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