Typhoon Roke passes over Japan without causing further problems at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant; Tokyo Electric Power reports no further leaks of radioactive water or material into environment
September 22, 2011
– The second major typhoon in a month made its way out of Japan on Thursday after triggering landslides and floods that left at least 16 people dead or missing but sparing a crippled nuclear plant from major damage.
There had been concerns that Typhoon Roke could pose more problems for the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was sent into meltdown by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but officials said the plant weathered the storm without major incident.
Hiroki Kawamata, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said several cameras set up to monitor the plant were damaged, but there had been no further leaks of radioactive water or material into the environment.
"We are seeing no problems so far," he said.
Police and local media reported 16 people dead or missing because of the storm, most swept away by rivers swollen with rains in the southern and central regions. One person died in a landslide in northern Iwate prefecture and two people were swept away in Sendai in the northeast.
The typhoon made landfall Wednesday afternoon near the city of Hamamatsu, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Tokyo, and then cut a path to the northeast and through the capital before bringing new misery to the tsunami zone. It dumped up to 17 inches (42 centimeters) of rain in some areas, triggering landslides and flooding.
By midafternoon Thursday, the system had weakened to a tropical storm and had moved out to sea past Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, which was not hit as hard as the main island of Honshu the day before.
On Wednesday, hundreds of tsunami survivors in government shelters in the Miyagi state town of Onagawa were forced to evacuate for fear of flooding. The storm set off landslides in parts of Miyagi that already were hit by the March disasters. The local government requested the help of defense troops, and dozens of schools canceled classes.
Strong winds snapped power lines in many areas, and officials said more than 200,000 households in central Japan were without electricity.
Overnight in Tokyo, where many rush hour trains were suspended for hours, thousands of commuters got stuck at stations across the sprawling city and stood in long lines for buses and cabs.
Fire department officials reported three people injured in Tokyo, but other than the inconvenience of transportation gridlock and winds that made it difficult to walk around the city, the storm passed through without incident.
Heavy rains prompted floods and caused road damage earlier in dozens of locations in Nagoya and several other cities, the Aichi prefectural government said. More than 200 domestic flights were canceled.
A typhoon that slammed Japan earlier this month left about 90 people dead or missing.
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