Super Typhoon Haishen likely to be record storm for Japan

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Japanese residents braced for impact on Saturday as powerful Super Typhoon Haishen moved through unusually warm waters towards the islands of Okinawa.

Weather officials warned residents of torrential downpours and high winds from the storm, the second in a week, asking them to take shelter and stock up on food and water.

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With sustained winds of up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour, Haishen remains on track to make landfall in Okinawa by Sunday and reach the main southern island of Kyushu soon after, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The impact of the Category 5 typhoon will be felt in southern Japan long before its 36-mile-wide center reaches the coastline.

People arrive at a helipad in Kagoshima, southern Japan, on Friday, September 4, 2020, to seek refuge from a powerful typhoon. (Kyodo News via AP)

Okinawa is home to more than half of the roughly 50,000 US troops based in Japan under a bilateral treaty.

Haishen, whose name means “god of the sea” in Chinese, is also expected to hit the Korean peninsula near Busan – South Korea’s second largest city – on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Recent measurements have shown that the system is moving north at 9 mph (15 km / h).

Meteorological agency official Yoshihisa Nakamoto told reporters he was worried that people would stay at home instead of fleeing due to fears over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You shouldn’t avoid going out because of these fears,” he said.

The typhoon is expected to have an atmospheric pressure of 915 hectopascals at its midpoint, and sustained winds of up to 198 km / h (123 mph) on Sunday, the weather agency noted.

Earlier last year, Typhoon Maysak struck the same area, injuring dozens of people and cutting power to thousands of households.

Assuming the super typhoon hits South Korea this weekend as a Category 2 or higher storm, this would only be the seventh storm to do so there.

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Moreover, Haishen would also be the fifth typhoon to strike this season, which would be a new record.

A freighter carrying 43 crew members and 5,800 New Zealand cows capsized off the coast of the country. While two people of Filipino nationality were rescued on Friday and one body was found, the Philippine government said the search for other people had been temporarily suspended due to Haishen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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