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Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

Asia

One dead, two missing as Typhoon Vongfong pounds Japan

AFP | Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

People struggle against strong wind and rain caused by approaching Typhoon Vongfong as they wallk on a street in Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo October 11, 2014.

TOKYO - One person was killed and two others remain missing after powerful typhoon Vongfong pounded Japan this week, officials said Tuesday, the latest storm to hit the disaster-prone archipelago.

The typhoon churned through eastern Japan early Tuesday after hitting Okinawa over the weekend and making landfall on the nation's southern main island of Kyushu on Monday, the meteorological agency said.

At least 94 people were injured in typhoon-related accidents across the nation, while local authorities issued evacuation advisories to more than 800,000 residents, NHK said.

The body of a 90-year-old man was found in a farm ditch in Tottori, western Japan, a spokesman with the Tottori Police Department said.

"We suspect the man fell accidentally into the ditch late Monday due to the storm," the spokesman told AFP.

A Chinese man has been missing in Shizuoka, central Japan, since he was swept away with high waves triggered by the typhoon over the weekend, officials said.

A 72-year-old driver was also missing in Ehime, western Japan, after he and his small truck fell into a pond Monday afternoon, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported.

Packing winds of up to 144 kilometres (89 miles) per hour, the typhoon was whirling over Fukushima as of 5:00 am (2000 GMT), the weather agency said.

Heavy rain hit the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the northeastern Pacific coast, "but we have not received any reports of damage or abnormality", said a spokesman with Tokyo Electric Power.

"We have halted ground work but plan to resume operations as soon as the plant's safety can be confirmed," the spokesman said.

The storm was downgraded to a extra-tropical depression by mid-morning and moving away from Japan. It was located off the coast of northeastern Japan at 0300 GMT.

Television footage showed a car crashed under the roof of a house ripped off by gusts in Hiroshima, western Japan, with taxis driven slowly on flooded roads in Sendai, northeastern Japan.

The weather agency warned that landslides, floods, high waves and heavy rains could hit a large swathe of the archipelago, where a relatively wet summer brought numerous landslides.

Airlines plan to cancel 78 flights Tuesday after the typhoon grounded 644 services the previous day, NHK said.

The typhoon came just a week after another strong tropical cyclone whipped through the country, leaving 11 people dead or missing.

Due to the latest storm, the search has been suspended for the bodies of at least seven hikers believed to remain on the still-smouldering Mount Ontake, where 56 bodies have already been retrieved.

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