Typhoon Lan makes landfall in Japan, thousands urged to seek safety

TOKYO (Reuters) -Nearly 900 flights in Japan were cancelled and 240,000 people were ordered to move to safety as a slow-moving typhoon crossed Japan’s main island of Honshu not far from the ancient capital of Kyoto, cutting off power to tens of thousands of homes.

Typhoon Lan, approaching from the Pacific Ocean, made landfall early on Tuesday at the southern tip of Wakayama prefecture, some 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Tokyo, bringing heavy rain and powerful winds across a wide swathe of central and western Japan as it moved north.

Authorities issued flood and landslide warnings as rivers rose to the top of their banks, with parts of some bridges washed away. Tornadoes formed in several areas but did not cause major damage.

By evening, the centre of the storm – which had weakened to tropical storm strength – was nearing the Sea of Japan, though forecasters warned concentrated rains were still possible across a wide area.

It continued to move slowly, at around 15 kilometers an hour (9.3 mph), raising the potential for flooding as rain pelted the same areas for a long time. Parts of central Japan recorded 585 mm (23 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 7:00 p.m. (1000 GMT).

Some two dozen people were injured, with one in serious condition, NHK public television said.

Authorities said they had set up evacuation centres in safe buildings and high ground for residents across 11 prefectures whom the Fire and Disaster Management Agency told to seek shelter.

As well as the disruption to flights, the dangerous rain and wind forced the closure of some roads and the suspension of dozens of train services, although by evening on Tuesday, some roads were reopening.

The storm comes days after Typhoon Khanun hit Japan during its peak Obon holiday season, when many factories close and city-dwellers return to their home towns and villages.

Power outages hit almost 90,000 households in central and western areas, utilities said. Seven & i said some 210 7-Eleven convenience store outlets were shut for safety reasons.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Satoshi Sugiyama and Elaine Lies,Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Lincoln Feast and Bernadette Baum)