Typhoon Roke bears down on Japan’s quake zone

A POWERFUL typhoon has slammed into disaster-ravaged Japan, authorities said, after it already killed at least four people.

Typhoon Roke made landfall near Hamamatsu, central Japan, at around 2:00 pm local time, on course to move northeast across the nation’s major island of Honshu, the meteorological agency said.

More than a million people were initially warned to leave their homes over fears that the torrential rains Typhoon Roke is expected to bring will cause widespread flooding.

”The rain and wind is raging out there as people on the street were staggering,” Yoshinori Ito, a spokesman with Hamamatsu City, said by phone.

”Visibility is quite low due to the storm,” Mr Ito said. ”We urge all of our citizens to be vigilant for now.”

The typhoon comes six months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami sparked a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and less than a month after a vicious storm left 100 dead.

Four people have been found dead in central and western Japan, while two people were missing in the central prefecture of Gifu, including a young boy who disappeared on his way home from primary school.

Many evacuation advisories were dropped by Wednesday lunchtime, but they remained in force for around 330,000 people nationwide.

Also in the path of the storm is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which started spewing radiation after it was sent into meltdown by the tsunami.

Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, said the cooling system for the reactors, crucial to keeping them under control, would not be endangered by the typhoon.

He said some construction work around the plant had been cancelled and utmost efforts were under way to prevent leaks of radioactive water and other material from the typhoon.

Japanese media reports said more than a million people have been ordered or advised to evacuate across the country as their homes may be flooded or buried in mudslides triggered by the typhoon.

The numbers varied, as there is no nationwide tally, and the situation has been flexible.

The Mainichi nationwide newspaper reported 1.4 million people were issued evacuation warnings, while the Yomiuri put the number at 1.2 million.

Heavy rains as the storm approached caused floods and road damage in dozens of locations in Nagoya and several other cities, the Aichi prefectural government said.

The storm was bringing rain and wind to the Tokyo area, and commuters were being warned to go home early before the storm approaches closer, expected to hit the capital on Wednesday afternoon.

Television footage showed people wading through water up to their knees in the central city of Nagoya, 270 kilometres west of Tokyo. In parts of the city near swollen rivers, rescue workers helped residents evacuate in rubber boats.

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

Toyota Motor said the typhoon had forced it to halt production at 11 of its 15 plants in Japan.

“The second (afternoon) shift is stopped. (It is) not resuming today. No decision has been made for tomorrow,” company spokesman Dion Corbert told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

The affected plants are all in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, which sits in the expected path of Typhoon Roke.

Earlier this month, Japan was hit by Typhoon Talas, which left about 90 people dead or missing.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply