Typhoon slams into Japan, 2 die

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon tore through Japan's main island Thursday, peeling roofs off houses, cutting electricity to hundreds of thousands and forcing flight cancellations before turning back toward the sea. Two men died, and dozens were injured.

Typhoon Melor hit the Japanese mainland with strong winds and heavy rain Thursday. More than two million commuters in Tokyo were stranded for hours as train services on several lines was suspended, while in other regions trucks were toppled on highways and bridges were destroyed by flash floods.

A man died when his motorbike slammed into a downed tree in the coastal prefecture of Wakayama, and another was killed by a falling tree just north of Tokyo, local police said.

Nearly 30 people were injured across the country and more than 11,000 people were evacuated to shelters, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

News broadcasts showed the damage left by the storm as it moved northeast across the country — partially submerged cars, large shipping containers scattered by the wind, and heavily damaged buildings with ceilings and walls torn away.

Electrical power was gradually being restored to the more than 500,000 homes that had been cut off during the storm, according to Japan's power companies.

Strong winds forced trains to stop midway between stations and unload passengers, and in some parts of Tokyo suited salarymen sprinted to work on roads alongside the dormant tracks. The usually punctual subways ran intermittently throughout the morning, according to Tokyo Metro Co.

The country's major airlines said at least 400 domestic flights and 20 international flights had been canceled due to the storm.

Some coastal highways were closed due to strong winds, and news footage showed large waves crashing over storm barriers onto roads.

By Thursday afternoon, the storm had moved north of Tokyo, where skies cleared and the weather turned balmy, and was nearing Fukushima, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.

Winds were blowing at about 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour, with gusts up to 100 mph (160 kph).

The typhoon weakened slightly as it moved north and was due to veer off the eastern coast Thursday evening.

Meanwhile in the Philippines, Typhoon Parma, which has weakened into a tropical depression, continued to buffet the northernmost region of the country with winds of 34 mph (55 kph). Flooding and landslides caused 23 deaths over the weekend, and more than 44,000 people have been forced into evacuation centers, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Parma was the second major storm to hit the country in the last two weeks. About 317,000 people remain in evacuation centers two weeks after Tropical Storm Ketsana inundated metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces, causing the worst flooding in the capital in over 40 years. That storm left 298 people dead and 39 missing.