Typhoon leaves 18 dead on Tokyo isle, in metro area

Japan Times

42 still missing on Izu-Oshima as dozens of houses collapse

japan9Typhoon Wipha brought strong winds and heavy rains to Tokyo early Wednesday, killing at least 17 people on Izu-Oshima Island and disrupting metropolitan area transportation systems during the morning rush hour.

On Izu-Oshima, which is in the Pacific about 120 km south of Tokyo, 17 bodies were found, while about 42 people remain missing, according to police sources, who added the number of collapsed houses may run into the dozens.

japan8In Machida, Tokyo, a woman believed to be in her 40s died after being swept away by a swollen river, police said.

According to data provided by the National Police Agency, 14 people were injured, including in Toyama, Tochigi, Chiba, Fukushima and Shizuoka prefectures.

In the town of Ninomiya, Kanagawa Prefecture, two 12-year-old boys were carried away by high waves while playing near the coast and remain missing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed government agencies to collect information on the damage, ensure speedy rescue operations and begin restoring infrastructure.

The Metropolitan Police Department is sending some 60 personnel, including members of a special disaster rescue team, to Izu-Oshima, where many are feared buried by mudslides. It is the first major disaster-relief mission for the team, which was set up last year. The Tokyo Fire Department also mobilized a rescue team.

At the request of Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, the Defense Ministry dispatched Ground Self-Defense Force troops to the island.

Hit by record rainfall, many houses in the Motomachi and Kandachi districts on the islands were washed away by floods and buried in mud after a mudslide blocked a river, Oshima officials said, adding that the local government is unable to reach at least 50 residents.

The municipal government alerted residents after the river overflowed, but did not issue an evacuation advisory, according to sources.

Several bullet-train runs on the Tohoku, Yamagata, Joetsu, Nagano and Tokaido shinkansen lines were canceled or temporarily suspended.

Air travel was heavily disrupted. Japan Airlines grounded 189 domestic flights while All Nippon Airways scrapped 211 domestic and international flights.

The typhoon, the 26th of the year, cleared the Kanto and Tohoku regions on Wednesday morning. At noon, the typhoon was 190 km southeast of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, traveling north-northeast at 80 kph.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it took steps to deal with water inside barriers around tanks storing radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Tepco released some 40 tons of radioactive water from two temporary storage tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station after heavy rains from the typhoon caused water to accumulate inside barriers surrounding a group of regular tanks used to store radioactive water.

The two temporary tanks are used to store low-level radioactive water.

Tepco began the water release at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday to secure storage space.

The temporary tanks, which can each hold 25 tons, are located 500 to 600 meters from the seawall at the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant.

The water released from the temporary tanks was below the provisional limit of radioactivity set for such releases, 25 becquerels per liter for cesium-137, 15 becquerels for cesium-134 and 10 becquerels for strontium-90.

All of the ceilings are one-third of the legal thresholds for the release of water into the sea.

At the tank areas where high radioactivity levels were detected, water near the tanks will be transferred to a newly built 4,000-ton makeshift tank.

As the season’s 26th typhoon neared the Kanto region, the Meteorological Agency called for vigilance over strong winds, high waves and flooding in a wide range of areas in the storm’s path.

The government set up a liaison office at the prime minister’s office to gather typhoon-related information.

As of 11 a.m., Wipha was moving north-northeast at a speed of around 75 kph some 150 km east-southeast of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. It had an atmospheric pressure at its center of 960 hectopascals and was packing winds of up to 180 kph near its center.

The storm was expected to be downgraded to an extratropical cyclone in the afternoon as it moved over the Pacific Ocean east of the Tohoku region.