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Typhoon Roke Causes Flooding in Japan, at Least Six People Dead

Typhoon Roke crossed Japan, killing at least six people and causing widespread flooding, power cuts and transport disruption before weakening on a path toward the Kuril islands.

Roke was about 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Nemuro on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido and about 980 kilometers northeast of Tokyo at 9 a.m. local time, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its website. The storm’s winds weakened to 120 kilometers per hour, just above the threshold for the weakest Category 1 on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale.

The storm lashed parts of Japan with as much as 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain in less than 24 hours, causing flooding in towns and cities including Nagoya, which has a population of 2.3 million in central Japan. Roke also dumped heavy rain on Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled nuclear plant Fukushima, which escaped the strongest winds.

Japan’s weather agency maintained warnings for landslides and flooding in northern areas of the main island of Honshu, including the Tohoku region hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, which killed almost 20,000 people. Public broadcaster NHK showed footage of damaged buildings, submerged cars and fallen trees. Roke comes three weeks after typhoon Talas killed 67 people, the nation’s deadliest storm in seven years.

Six Dead

Six people, including a 45-year-old bus driver who died of electric shock from a falling telegraph pole, were killed and eight people are still missing after Roke passed overnight, public broadcaster NHK reported. Another 216 people are injured from accidents in strong winds and flying debris.

Tokyo Electric, Japan’s largest utility, said about 32,000 homes in its service area, mainly in Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures to the southwest of Tokyo, remained without power as of 8 a.m. local time. Chubu Electric Power Co. said 68,210 homes were without power in Hamamatsu, where the storm came ashore in central Japan yesterday, and other areas.

Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. warned of delays and cancellations to flights to and from Hokkaido after canceling more than 200 domestic flights yesterday. Central Japan Railway Co. resumed bullet train services linking Tokyo and Osaka with delays of up to 30 minutes, while other local lines in central Japan remained closed.

Roke is forecast to weaken to tropical storm status later today as it moves northeast away from Hokkaido toward the Kuril Islands between Japan and Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.

Rain in Fukushima

In Fukushima, Roke dumped 204.5 millimeters of rain on Namie, a town near the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, raising water levels by about 10 centimeters overnight, Masashi Kato, spokesman for the utility known as Tepco, said today by phone. The company is still compiling data on water levels, he said.

Tepco found about 4 tons per hour of rain water is leaking through a gap between a pipe and a wall into the basement of No. 6 turbine building yesterday, Kato said. The leak won’t affect the cooling system of the No. 6 reactor, he said.

The utility has been injecting water into Dai-Ichi’s reactors since the earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, causing the worst nuclear accident in 25 years. Reactor buildings contained 102 million liters of radioactive water as of Sept. 13, according to Tepco estimates.

In addition, as much as 500 tons, or 500,000 liters, of underground water is leaking into Dai-Ichi buildings every day through cracks in walls and trenches, Tokyo Electric spokesman Hajime Motojuku said this week.

Japan is regularly hit by cyclones during the northern hemisphere’s summer. Typhoon Talas killed 67 people and left 26 missing when it dumped as much as 1.8 meters of rain in central Japan earlier this month. Talas was the deadliest storm since 2004, when Typhoon Tokage left 95 people dead.

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