Japan Typhoon Wipha kills 13 people

 
Rescue workers search among collapsed houses following a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha on Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo, 16 October 2013

Houses collapsed or were buried in mudslides on Izu Oshima island

At least 13 people have been killed after a powerful typhoon passed close to the Japanese capital, reports say.

Typhoon Wipha caused landslides and flooding on Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo, with several houses destroyed.

Many people died when their homes collapsed or were buried in mudslides on the island. Two were found dead near a river.

In Tokyo, flights were cancelled, bullet train services suspended and schools closed.

“It is the strongest typhoon in 10 years to pass the Kanto [Tokyo area] region,” Hiroyuki Uchida, the Japan Meteorological Agency’s chief forecaster, told journalists on Tuesday.

The storm brought strong winds and record rainfall – 122mm (4.8 inches) in one hour on Wednesday morning – to Izu Oshima island, which lies some 120km (75 miles) south of Tokyo.

Officials on the island said that 13 bodies had found and more than 50 people were unaccounted for.

“We have no idea how bad the extent of damage could be,” town official Hinani Uematsu said.

Local media described mud and debris strewn around houses.

Houses in a residential area in Oshima are buried by mudslides after a powerful typhoon hit Izu Oshima island on 16 October 2013

Houses were buried in mudslides triggered by the rain


Several houses in a residential area  are covered by debris from mudslides after a powerful typhoon hit Izu Oshima island on 16 October 2013

Rescuers were struggling to access some areas, reports said


People walk against strong wind and rain in Tokyo on 16 October 2013

In the capital, the storm led to train services and flights being cancelled

 

“I heard a crackling sound and then the trees on the hillside all fell over,” a woman on the island told national broadcaster NHK television.

“Then mud slid as far as the house.”

Rescuers were struggling to access many areas, local reports said.

“City hall and fire station officials are doing rescue work in places accessible,” a local official told AFP news agency.

In Tokyo, a search was under way for two young boys last seen on a beach, reports said.

Around 400 domestic and international flights were also cancelled in the capital, Kyodo news agency said.

Nearly 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate and thousands of schools shut as a result of the typhoon, Reuters news agency reported.

Typhoon Wipha was expected to move north-east and weaken over the course of the day.

Map

It was expected to pass close to the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, where contaminated water used to cool reactor cores is being stored in temporary tanks.

The plant operator said it was pumping out rainwater from its storage tanks.

“We are making preparations for proper management of contaminated water. We will patrol places that could have inflows of water [from the storm],” a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Tuesday.

Izu Oshima, a volcanic island popular with tourists, has more than 8,000 residents.

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