Typhoon batters Japan, two dead

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon slammed into Japan’s main island today, leaving two dead and a dozen injured as strong winds ripped off roofs, uprooted trees and prompted fears of landslides.

Typhoon Melor, packing gusts of up to 162 km an hour, cut a swathe across densely populated central Japan, causing travel chaos and power blackouts for hundreds of thousands of homes. The typhoon, the first to make landfall in Japan since 2007, was “very dangerous”, but weakened as it churned across the main island of Honshu, said Takeo Tanaka, a forecaster at the Meteorological Agency. “Winds are violent and rain is torrential. You should also be on guard against mudslides,” he said. A 54-year-old newspaper deliveryman died in western Wakayama prefecture after his motorbike collided with a fallen tree, while a 69-year-old man was killed by a falling branch north of Tokyo. About 100 people were injured and thousands more evacuated to shelters, the government said. “It felt like a huge earthquake,” one woman in Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo told local television.

“Before we knew it, the water level came up to our knees inside our house,” said another resident in central Aichi prefecture. There was severe travel disruption with nearly 500 flights cancelled and many railway services — including bullet trains — temporarily suspended.

TV footage showed trucks blown over and cars abandoned in the middle of flooded roads. The economy also took a hit as manufacturers including Toyota Motor, the world’s biggest automaker, halted production while the storm passed.

As many as 570,000 households in west and central Japan experienced power cuts, while blackouts hit about 16,000 homes and businesses in and around Tokyo. The storm moved to the northern Tohoku region in the afternoon, leaving at least 31,000 households there without electricity, before heading back out into the

Pacific Ocean.