Typhoon Wipha leaves 17 dead and 50 missing as it hits Japan

Hardest hit by the typhoon was Izu Oshima island, where hundreds of homes were destroyed as more than 30 inches of rain fell in 24 hours

Rescue workers carry the body of a landslide victim after a powerful typhoon hit Izu Oshima island, Japan
Rescue workers carry the body of a landslide victim after a powerful typhoon hit Izu Oshima island, Japan

At least 17 people have been killed and another 50 are missing after Typhoon Wipha hit a Japanese island and swept on to Tokyo.

Hardest hit by the typhoon was Izu Oshima island, which is about 75 miles south of the capital where hundreds of homes were destroyed as more than 30 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

In Tokyo a woman died after falling into a river and being washed away and two boys and another person were missing on Japan’s main island, Honshu.

The typhoon, which stayed offshore in the Pacific, had winds of  around 80 mph with gusts up to 110 mph, before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Izu Oshima is the largest island in the Izu chain south-west of Tokyo. It has one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, Mount Mihara, and is a major base for growing camellias. About 8,200 people live on the island, which is accessed by ferry.

Yutaka Sagara, a 59-year-old chef on the east coast of the island, said he spent a sleepless night with colleagues at their company housing. Their hillside apartment barely escaped a mudslide that veered off to the side. Later he found out the mudslide crushed several houses as it flowed to the sea.

“People on this island are somewhat used to heavy rainstorms, but this typhoon was beyond our imagination,” he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to do the utmost to rescue the missing and support the survivors, while trying to restore infrastructure and public services as quickly as possible. Japanese troops were deployed to the island, as well as Tokyo’s “hyper-rescue” police with rescue dogs.

As a precaution, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, released tons of rainwater that was being held behind protective barriers around storage tanks for radioactive water. Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, said only water below an allowable level of radioactivity was released. During an earlier typhoon in September, rainwater spilled out before it could be tested.

 

 
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