TOKYO, Japan: Six Dead,One Million Flee Typhoon: UPDATED + China Floods

21 Sep

A Million Flee As Typhoon Threatens Chaos
By YURI KAGEYAMA – Associated Press |
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Video: Typhoon Roke heads for Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) — A powerful typhoon slammed into Japan on Wednesday, leaving 13 people dead or missing in south-central regions and halting trains in Tokyo before grazing a crippled nuclear plant in the tsunami-ravaged northeast.

Officials at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where engineers are still struggling with small radiation leaks due to tsunami damage, expressed relief that Typhoon Roke’s driving winds and rains caused no immediate problems there other than a broken security camera.

“The worst seems to be over,” said Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., after the storm passed just west of the plant and then headed north.

More than 200,000 households in central Japan were without electricity late Wednesday. Police and local media reported 13 people dead or missing in southern and central regions, many of them believed swept away by rivers swollen with rains.

The storm, packing sustained winds of up to 100 mph (162 kph), made landfall in the early afternoon near the city of Hamamatsu, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Tokyo. The fast-moving storm went past the capital in the evening and then headed into the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the March 11 earthquak tsunami.

In Tokyo, where many rush hour commuter trains were suspended, thousands of commuters trying to rush home were stuck at stations across the sprawling city.

“The hotels in the vicinity are all booked up, so I’m waiting for the bullet train to restart,” Hiromu Harada, a 60-year-old businessman, said dejectedly at Tokyo Station.

Fire department officials reported three people injured in Tokyo. In the trendy shopping district of Shibuya, winds knocked a tree onto a sidewalk, but no one was hurt. Pedestrians struggled to walk straight in powerful winds that made umbrellas useless.

At the Fukushima plant, engineers are still working to stabilize the reactors six months after three of them melted down when the tsunami disabled the plant’s power and back-up generators.

Iwamoto said the storm passed without damaging the reactors’ cooling systems, which are crucial to keeping them under control. However, a closed-circuit camera that shows exteriors of the reactor buildings abruptly stopped, and plant workers were investigating, he said. 

Workers were trying to prevent pools of contaminated water from flooding and leaking outside the complex, said Junichi Matsumoto, another power company spokesman.

“The contaminated water levels have been rising, and we are watching the situation very closely to make sure it stays there,” Matsumoto told reporters.

As the storm headed further into the north, it triggered landslides in parts of Miyagi state that already were hit by the March disasters. Some 2,500 people, including 472 quake and tsunami survivors living in shelters in the town of Onagawa, were ordered to evacuate due to fear of flooding. The local government requested the help of defense troops. Dozens of schools canceled classes.

The disaster-struck region had a chilling reminder of its earlier disasters when a magnitude-5.3 earthquake struck late Wednesday just south of Fukushima in the Ibaraki state. Officials said the temblor posed no danger to the plant, and that it did not cause any damage or injuries in the region.

Heavy rains prompted floods and caused road damage earlier in dozens of locations in Nagoya and several other cities, the Aichi prefectural (state) government said.

Parts of Japan’s central city of Nagoya, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) west of Tokyo, were flooded near swollen rivers where rescue workers helped residents evacuate in rubber boats.

Police in nearby Gifu prefecture said a 9-year-old boy and an 84-year-old man were missing after apparently falling into swollen rivers.

More than 200 domestic flights were canceled and some bullet train services were suspended.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s No. 1 automaker, shut down its plants as a precaution.

Machinery maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries told workers at its five plants to stay home, company spokesman Hideo Ikuno said.

Nissan Motor Co. spokesman Chris Keeffe said workers at its Yokohama headquarters and nearby technical facilities were being told to go home early for safety reasons, and that two plants were not operating.

A typhoon that slammed Japan earlier this month left about 90 people dead or missing.


AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report

At least six people are dead or missing and more than a million evacuated from cities in Japan as a typhoon strikes the country.

A Million Flee As Typhoon Threatens Chaos

The category 2 tropical storm, known as Roke , is expected to head toward the north eastern region which was battered by the tsunami in March.

The southern coastline near Tanabe and Nagoya has already experienced winds of over 100mph (160kph) and heavy rain.

Rescuers in boats have been trying to help people whose homes have been hit by floods and landslides.

In the capital, Tokyo, high winds and rain have knocked out the power to 200,000 homes while local authorities battle to strengthen river banks.

The Japanese government has asked people to follow evacuation orders.

Chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura warned: “We need to be extra vigilant against a potential disaster caused by heavy rains, strong winds and rough seas along a wide area from western to northern Japan.”

The typhoon has affected much of Japan’s industrial heartland and companies including car manufacturer Toyota have closed down their factories.

Also buffeted by the storm is the Fukushima nuclear power plant – which is at the centre of an ongoing radiation crisis since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastline on March 11.

The plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has said there was no immediate problems reported at the damaged reactors from the storm.

Surging waves hit against the breakwater in Udono in a port town of Kiho, Mie Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. A powerful typhoon was bearing down on Japan's tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast Wednesday, approaching a nuclear power plant crippled in that disaster and prompting calls for the evacuation of more than a million people. (AP Photo/Chunichi Shimbun, Daiji Yanagida) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES

Surging waves hit against the breakwater in Udono in a port town of Kiho, Mie Prefecture, … Click on image for slideshow:


Related Content: CHINA:

Residents try to salvage and clean up their belongings after flood waters swarmed the city of Guangan, southwest China's Sichuan province on September 19. Heavy flooding across large parts of China has left 90 dead and 22 missing, state-run news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday

Residents try to salvage and clean up their belongings after flood waters swarmed …

21 photos – 10 hrs ago See latest photos »

Heavy flooding across large parts of China has left 90 dead and 22 missing, state-run news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday.

Torrential rains have swamped parts of northern, central and southwest China, causing serious flooding in several provinces and forcing mass evacuations.

The death toll has now risen to 90, with downpours, floods and landslides affecting nine regions, according to the National Disaster Reduction Commission, Xinhua said.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has sent 22,000 tents, 70,000 cotton quilts and 35,000 items of clothing to affected areas, the NDRC said.

On Tuesday the ministry said 1.66 million people across the country had been forced to leave their homes. More than 120,000 houses had collapsed and economic losses from damaged houses, crops and land were estimated to have reached 26.09 billion yuan ($4.08 billion), it said.

China is hit by big downpours every summer. Last year saw the nation’s worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing.


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