|Typhoon Ma-On in the western Pacific Ocean [NASA]
Japan has been hit by a torrential typhoon which is expected to affect the country until Friday, prompting safety warnings at the earthquake and tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
At 0800GMT (1700 local time) on Tuesday, the centre of Typhoon Ma-On was located approximately 45km south of Shikoku, Japan.
Effects of the storm could be felt into northern Honshu with clouds and rain bands extending 900km northeast.
With winds as fast as 198km per hour, the storm has prompted workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to take safety measures.
While the typhoon is not expected to hit the region that is home to the plant, torrential rain is feared in the disaster-ravaged northeast through Thursday.
“Emergency workers reduced the amount of cooling water to inject into reactor numbers one and two out of fears that rain water may increase contaminated water levels as the typhoon comes,” said TEPCO spokesperson Ai Tanaka.
“We are also making preparations to protect the facility as high waves are expected.”
Ma-On is expected to stay close to the Japanese coast or just onshore of Shikoku as it moves to the northeast.
It is then expected to hit land just south of Osaka on around 00GMT on Wednesday. By then, winds are expected to have have decreased to the intensity of a tropical storm.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency’s radar has been indicating rainfall amounts for Shikoku and central Honshu between 30 and 50mm per hour.
Until 48 hours after the storm first hit, and as it progresses to the east, total accumulations across the region could exceed well over 400mm.
Flooding, wind damage and storm surge will continue to be factors until the storm returns to the Pacific Ocean, expected on Friday morning.