Typhoon Nabi near southern Japan

A powerful typhoon approached southern Japan on Monday, lashing the region with heavy rains and strong winds, injuring at least eight people and leaving one missing. Thousands of people were evacuated and hundreds of flights were canceled.

Typhoon Nabi was packing winds of up to 162 kilometers (100 miles) per hour as it slowly moved toward Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

As of Monday night, the typhoon was located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Yakushima island. It was expected to hit Kyushu island midnight Monday and head northeast, it said, predicting up to 80 centimeters (32 inches) of rain in southern Kyushu, the AP reports.

Nabi, which means butterfly in Korean, was expected to reach western Japan and Hokkaido by Wednesday, the agency said.

In Miyazaki prefecture (state) on Kyushu, two women, 87 and 51 years old, suffered head injuries as they were sprayed with shards of broken windows hit by the wind, while a 51-year-old man fell from a verandah and suffered bruises, the National Police Agency said. The prefectural police said a 43-year-old man was injured slightly after falling from a roof.

Some 18,000 people were evacuated because of fears of flooding and mudslides from heavy rains, Miyazaki police said.

Public broadcaster NHK said more than 190,000 houses lost electricity on Kyushu.

The government has set up a task force to monitor damages, said Yu Kameoka, a spokesman for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Japanese airlines canceled more than 300 domestic flights, mostly those linking Kyushu and Tokyo, for Monday, and more cancellations were expected Tuesday.

Heavy rains pounded Tokyo and its surrounding areas late Sunday, flooding thousands of homes and leaving at least one person dead.

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