Monday, 30 January, 2023
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Japan, Puerto Rico witness torrential rains, massive blackouts as deadly cyclones pound nations

Typhoon Nanmadol forced millions to seek shelter from heavy rains as it made landfall in Japan Sunday, while Hurricane Fiona has left all of Puerto Rico reeling in the dark.

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Bengaluru: The landfall of Typhoon Nanmadol in Japan and Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico Sunday brought the two island nations to a standstill, with widespread flooding, houses being washed away, electricity blackouts, and disruption to connectivity.

Authorities in Japan had previously urged around four million people on Kyushu island to evacuate as the powerful typhoon brought record-breaking winds that are predicted to reach up to 250 kmph in the coming days. The typhoon is expected to turn eastward and reach Tokyo by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, heavy downpour inundated large swathes of Puerto Rico and sustained winds reached 140 kmph, when Hurricane Fiona made landfall a few hours before. The entire electricity grid in the Caribbean island has collapsed. US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in the island.

The power grid in Puerto Rico was kept offline before the hurricane hit the island nation of 3.3 million people, in order to protect the infrastructure. The grid has remained prone to frequent outages since Hurricane Maria hit the region in 2017 and caused one of the largest power blackouts in America.

Residents from vulnerable parts in Puerto Rico were evacuated by authorities Sunday as torrential downpour continued to batter.

Visuals from both regions show houses being swept away. Authorities in Japan and Puerto Rico have warned of more flash floods, landslides as well as mudslides over the next few days.

One dead in Guadeloupe

One death has been reported from Hurricane Fiona so far, in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe island. The victim’s house was swept away by the floods, as the hurricane made landfall there, before heading to Puerto Rico. Neighbouring Dominican Republic is also on high alert for intense rains and high-speed winds, with the hurricane heading there next.

No major casualties have been reported in Japan so far, although nearly 100,000 homes are reported to be without electricity. Nearly 10 million people have taken shelter from the storm, and authorities have warned of imminent “large-scale disaster”.

Roads and all forms of transport, including Japan’s high speed trains, have been suspended in both nations.

Authorities in Japan and the Caribbean islands have also warned residents of increased risk from floods that could collapse or wash away houses and buildings. Both storms are expected to move back into the sea by Wednesday.

Also read: Heavy rain, poor drainage, worse infra — how Bengaluru was hit by a perfect storm and drowned


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