TOKYO, June 19, 2012 (AFP) - A powerful typhoon bringing heavy rain and strong winds cut across Japan's main island of Honshu Tuesday, the weather agency said, as flights were cancelled and evacuations ordered.
About 10,400 people in coastal Ishinomaki, hit by last year's earthquake and tsunami, were advised to evacuate to higher ground ahead of the typhoon's arrival, which would coincide with rises in the tide, a city official said. The typhoon made landfall on the tip of the Pacific peninsula of Kii, south of Osaka, shortly after 5:00 pm (0800 GMT), and was expected to pass by Tokyo around midnight (1500 GMT), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was moving northeast over Honshu at 65 kilometres (40 miles) per hour. "The typhoon's force may not gain any more but we think the wind and rain will get stronger. It is picking up speed," an official at the agency said. The typhoon, named Guchol -- meaning "turmeric" in a Micronesian language, -- packing winds of up to 180 kilometres per hour, was projected to go out into the Pacific again Wednesday morning, the agency said.
The town of Nachikatsuura, some 400 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, ordered nearly 1,600 residents to evacuate, warning of the danger of landslides brought on by heavy rain, media reports said. Airlines have cancelled 420 domestic and international flights so far because of the strong winds, affecting 32,600 passengers.