Flights grounded for Typhoon Halong

Tokyo - A strong typhoon lashed large areas of southwest Japan on Saturday, grounding around 460 flights and stranding thousands of holidaymakers, officials and local media said.

Typhoon Halong, packing winds of up to 198km/h, could make landfall in southwest Japan late on Saturday or early on Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The outer bands of the storm have already brought heavy rain and strong winds to large areas of the Japanese archipelago, as television footage showed high waves triggered by the typhoon splashing over breakwaters.

The storm and torrential rains earlier this week have left one dead and four injured, public broadcaster NHK said.

At least 460 flights were cancelled due to the storm, which came as Japan had just begun its annual "Obon" summer holiday, NHK said.

Over the next 24 hours, the storm was expected to dump 700mm of rain on the southwest island of Shikoku, which had already been lashed by by downpours from another typhoon last weekend, the national weather agency said.

The agency warned of major landslides and floods mainly in western Japan, while local authorities in Tokushima in Shikoku issued an evacuation advisory to some 44 100 residents, officials said.

The typhoon, which was about 210km off Shikoku's southern tip at 04:00 GMT, was moving northeast at 15km/h, the agency said.

Halong comes a month after Typhoon Neoguri killed several people and left a trail of destruction in southern Japan.

Last weekend, a man drowned in a raging river while more than half a million people were advised to evacuate as heavy rain from Typhoon Nakri lashed the country.