OCTOBER 6 2009 08:33h
Typhoon Melor, packing gusts of up to 252 kilometres per hour, was bearing down on Minami Daito island and may hit the island of Honshu.
A powerful typhoon barrelled towards Japan on Tuesday, prompting warnings of strong winds and high waves just days after storms wreaked devastation in Southeast Asia.
Typhoon Melor, packing gusts of up to 252 kilometres (156 miles) per hour, was bearing down on Minami Daito island in Japan's far south and may hit the main island of Honshu on Thursday, the weather agency said.
The storm has winds of up to 180 kilometres per hour near its centre, it said.
- Minami Daito is expected to be hit by violent winds and rough seas with a sea swell of more than nine metres (30 feet) from late Tuesday to Wednesday noon - an official at the agency said.
- Residents should also brace themselves for heavy rain - he added.
Melor may make landfall on Kii Peninsula in western Honshu
Melor, which means jasmine in Malay, may make landfall on Kii Peninsula in western Honshu on Thursday and rip through the archipelago on a course similar to a 1959 killer typhoon that left thousands dead in Japan, the official said.
The latest typhoon is unlikely to inflict devastation on such a scale because Japanese houses are now better built and coastal areas are equipped with storm surge barriers, he said.
But typhoons can still claim lives in Japan. In August Typhoon Etau brought flashfloods and landslides that killed at least 25 people.
Another powerful storm, Ketsana, has caused devastation across Southeast Asia, killing hundreds of people, mostly in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Meanwhile Taiwan, where more than 600 people died after Typhoon Morakot struck in August, has evacuated thousands of villagers as a storm approaches.