Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Powerful Typhoon Roke hits Japan

BBC's Roland Buerk: "There are concerns that rain could force radioactive water into the sea" Footage courtesy of TV Osaka

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A powerful typhoon has struck disaster-ravaged Japan, bringing heavy rains and floods that have killed four people.
Typhoon Roke is on course to hit Fukushima, where engineers are still struggling to bring a nuclear plant under control after the March tsunami.
There are concerns that rain could force radioactive water into the sea.
Across Japan more than a million people were urged to evacuate their homes; an advisory was later lifted in one area but 330,000 people remain at risk.
The typhoon made landfall on Wednesday afternoon (0500GMT) in Hamamatsu, scouring its way up the main island of Honshu, bringing high winds and torrential rain.
The storm is tracking a path across Tokyo towards Fukushima prefecture and is then expected to travel up along the north-east coast, which was battered by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says pools of radioactive water remain at the Fukushima nuclear site, and there is concern that a heavy downpour could cause them to overflow into the sea or groundwater.
A spokesman for Tepco said the firm that operates the plant was taking "every possible measure against the typhoon".
"We have tied down cables and hoses while fixing equipment so that radioactive materials will not spread [in violent winds]," said Naoki Tsunoda.
He said the work on the ground and at sea had been suspended.
Caution urged Four people have been found dead after heavy rain and flooding in central and western Japan as the storm approached.
Two people are missing in the central prefecture of Gifu, including a nine-year-old boy.
BBC weather expert Peter Gibbs on Typhoon Roke's path
When Typhoon Roke hit Japan's coastline, winds at its centre were 162km/h (100mph).
Yokosuka resident Atsuhiko A-chan Hayasaka said strong winds were battering his house.
"It feels like we will be blown outside. The wind is much more severe than the downpours now. My house is shaking every time the strong winds hit.
"Fortunately we have no blackout, so we will be eating dinner using the electricity as usual. But I am concerned because according to TV reports the typhoon is expected to reach near here," he told the BBC.
Several motorways have been closed, with hundreds of flights cancelled and some bullet train services suspended. Car maker Toyota is suspending production at 11 of its 15 factories.
Businesses and schools in the capital have closed early, our correspondent reports.
Japan's Meteorological Agency has urged "the highest level of caution be used because of the heavy rain, strong wind, and high waves."
The agency has warned of downpours over a wide area of the country on Wednesday, saying some places could be deluged by as much as 50mm of rain in an hour.
This is the second time in less than a month that Japan is being lashed by a typhoon. Talas ripped through the west of the country, leaving about 90 people dead or missing.
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