Typhoon Wipha kills at least 8 in Japan
Hundreds of flights and trains canceled as search for missing gets underway
Rescue workers recover the body of a victim from a site that was damaged by a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters
Typhoon Wipha passed through Japan’s east coast today, killing at least eight and leaving 37 missing in heavy rainfall and landslides.
Hundreds of flights and trains were canceled, delaying millions of commuters in rush hour. The eight deaths were confirmed mainly on Oshima Island, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Tokyo, and 37 people are missing, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo today.
As many as 13 may have died on Oshima Island, the Kyodo news agency later reported. Wipha, moving northeast at 70 kilometers per hour, with maximum gusts of 180 kilometers per hour, was centred 120 kilometers off Japan’s eastern coast as of 9am, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s website.
“People should still be careful as there are strong winds and high waves will persist as the typhoon travels north,” Japanese Meteorological Agency official Hiroyuki Uchida said by phone.
“This is the largest typhoon to approach the Kanto area in about 10 years.” Wipha is expected to pass by the coast of Fukushima prefecture, site of the damaged Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, by 3pm, according to the agency. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, discharged 20 tons of accumulated rainwater as a precaution from an area where tanks used to hold water for cooling nuclear fuel are stored, spokesman Yusuke Kunikage said.
“We have yet to know how much rainwater will eventually be released” as the typhoon has yet to pass, Mr Kunikage said. Power was cut to 65,700 customers in the Kanto region, Tokyo Electric said.
The utility, also known as Tepco, serves 29 million people in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the world’s largest. About 15,550 homes in central Japan lost power this morning, Chubu Electric Power Co said. The Tokyo Stock Exchange started trading as scheduled at 9am, spokesman Naoya Takahashi said by telephone.
The Topix index fell 0.2 per cent to 1,194.64 in the morning session.
Schools in the Tokyo central districts of Shinagawa, Shibuya and Minato were closed. ANA Holdings canceled 207 domestic flights and four international flights, affecting about 32,500 people, the Tokyo- based company said in a faxed statement.
Japan Airlines pulled 193 flights, affecting about 29,080 people, it said. East Japan Railway, the country’s largest train operator, canceled or reduced services on dozens of lines today, including bullet train operations, according to the company.