16 Oct 2013

Typhoon Wipha leaves 17 dead in Japan

Weather Presenter

Typhoon Wipha brushed along the southern side of Japan on Wednesday, causing mudslides and flooding that left 17 people dead and 50 missing.

The worst hit area was Izu Oshima island, which is about 75 miles south of Tokyo. Torrential rain caused rivers to burst their banks, triggering mudslides along a mile-long stretch of mountains.

According to officials, 16 people were killed on the island – most of them buried in mud. Japanese troops were deployed to the island, as well as Tokyo’s “hyper-rescue” police with rescue dogs.

In western Tokyo, a woman was killed when she was swept away by a swollen river and dragged six miles downstream.

Two of the 50 reported missing were sixth-grade boys on Japan’s main island, Honshu, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Prior to the storm’s arrival, there were concerns for Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.


Tepco, the operator, said Typhoon Wipha had caused no new problems at the plant, which is on the coast 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo.

As a precaution, rain water that fell on the plant was held behind protective barriers in storage tanks for radioactive water.

However, following checks for radioactivity, the water was deemed to be below the allowable level of radioactivity and released into the sea, a company spokesman said.

Travel disruption

Transport was also hit hard by the storm, with more than 500 flights at Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports cancelled. Bullet train services were temporarily halted but resumed by Wednesday afternoon.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking to Parliament on Wednesday, vowed to do the utmost to rescue the missing and support the survivors.

Although Typhoon Wipha never made a direct landfall, its close proximity to the coast gave sustained winds of around 78mph and gusts of 110mph.

The storm was the strongest to hit the area since 2004, when that cyclone caused landslides and floods that killed 100 people.