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Typhoon Lionrock nears Japan's tsunami-hit northeast, grounds flights

Typhoon Lionrock is expected to make landfall in the northeast Tohoku region later on Tuesday.

FILE: A wooden house collapsed during strong winds in Naha on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa on 8 July 2014. Powerful typhoon Neoguri lashed Japan’s southern Okinawa islands on 8 July, forcing over half a million people to seek shelter. Picture: AFP.

TOKYO - More than 100 flights were cancelled and evacuation warnings were issued for thousands of people as a powerful typhoon approached Japan's northeast on Tuesday, a region devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami five years ago.

Typhoon Lionrock was expected to make landfall in the northeast Tohoku region later on Tuesday, with sustained winds of 120km/h and gusts up to 176km/h as it moved north from the Pacific Ocean, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Toyota Motor Corp said production would be suspended on Tuesday at two of its factories in the typhoon's path due to concerns that heavy rain and strong wind would affect road conditions and delay parts deliveries.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant wrecked in the March 2011 disaster, said it had suspended some outdoor operations. About 1,200 households lost power in eastern Japan near Tokyo.

The category one typhoon was expected to dump about 35 cm of rain in the northeast by Wednesday morning, more than the average rainfall for all of August, according to meteorologists.

However, Lionrock was expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall.

Broadcaster NHK said airlines had cancelled 110 domestic flights, while some Shinkansen bullet train services were also suspended. No injuries have been reported, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

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