Japan typhoon kills at least 17, but avoids causing new disaster at Fukushima

No radioactive rainwater was released in to the sea, the nuclear plant's operator said

Topics: Japan, Fukushima, Nuclear Power, Natural Disasters, Typhoon, ,

TOKYO (AP) — A typhoon caused deadly mudslides that buried people and destroyed homes on a Japanese island Wednesday before sweeping up the Pacific coast, grounding hundreds of flights and disrupting Tokyo’s transportation during the morning rush. At least 17 deaths were reported and nearly 50 people were missing.

Hardest hit from Typhoon Wipha was Izu Oshima island, which is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tokyo. Rescuers found 16 bodies, most of them buried by mudslides, police and town officials said. Dozens of homes were destroyed, and about 45 people were missing.

A woman from Tokyo died after falling into a river and being washed 10 kilometers (6 miles) downriver to Yokohama, police said. Two sixth-grade boys and another person were missing on Japan’s main island, Honshu, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

More than 350 homes were damaged or destroyed, including 283 on Izu Oshima, it said.

The typhoon, which stayed offshore in the Pacific, had sustained winds of 126 kilometers per hour (78 miles per hour), with gusts up to 180 kph (110 mph), before it was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday evening. The storm was moving northeast, off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

You Might Also Like

More than 80 centimeters (30 inches) of rain fell on Izu Oshima during a 24-hour period ending Wednesday morning, the most since record-keeping began in 1991.

The rainfall was particularly heavy before dawn, the kind in which “you can’t see anything or hear anything,” Japan Meteorological Agency official Yoshiaki Yano said.

Izu Oshima is the largest island in the Izu chain southwest of Tokyo. It has one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, Mount Mihara, and is a major base for growing camellias. About 8,200 people live on the island, which is accessible by ferry from Tokyo.

Yutaka Sagara, a 59-year-old sushi chef on the east coast of the island, said he spent a sleepless night with colleagues at their company housing. Their hillside apartment barely escaped a mudslide that veered off to the side. Later he found out the mudslide crushed several houses as it flowed to the sea.

“People on this island are somewhat used to heavy rainstorms, but this typhoon was beyond our imagination,” he said by phone.

Sagara came down to his seaside sushi restaurant on foot, wading through knee-deep mud, to check things out and make sushi for rescue workers.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking to Parliament on Wednesday, vowed to do the utmost to rescue the missing and support the survivors, while trying to restore infrastructure and public services as quickly as possible. Japanese troops were deployed to the island, as well as Tokyo’s “hyper-rescue” police with rescue dogs.

As a precaution, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, released tons of rainwater that were being held behind protective barriers around storage tanks for radioactive water. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, said only water below an allowable level of radioactivity was released, which Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority allowed Tuesday. During an earlier typhoon in September, rainwater spilled out before it could be tested.

___

Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...