Typhoon Wipha Weakens After Killing 15, Delaying Millions

Typhoon Wipha weakened to a low-pressure area off Japan’s eastern coast after tearing along the sea near Tokyo, killing at least 15 and leaving 55 missing in heavy rainfall and landslides. Hundreds of flights and trains were canceled, delaying millions in the morning rush.

There were 15 confirmed deaths, mainly on Oshima Island 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Tokyo, with 55 people missing, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Tokyo today. A total of 16 died on Oshima Island, NHK reported separately.

Wipha was moving north-northeast at 85 kilometers per hour off the eastern coast as of 3 p.m., according to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s website. The typhoon earlier menaced the coast with maximum gusts of 180 kilometers per hour.

“This is the largest typhoon to approach the Kanto area in about 10 years,” Japanese Meteorological Agency official Hiroyuki Uchida said by phone.

Wipha earlier passed by the coast of Fukushima prefecture, site of the damaged Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, is close to completing a discharge of accumulated rainwater in areas where tanks used to hold water for cooling nuclear fuel are stored, spokesman Hiroshi Itagaki said today by phone. There were no reports of contaminated water leaks due to the typhoon, he said.

Power Cut

Some 16,656 customers in the Kanto region were without power as of 4 p.m. Japan time after as many as 65,700 customers were cut off earlier in the day, Tokyo Electric said. The utility, also known as Tepco, serves 29 million people in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the world’s largest. About 15,550 homes in central Japan lost power this morning, Chubu Electric Power Co. said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange traded as scheduled today, with the Topix index falling 0.1 percent to close at 1,196.78. Schools in the Tokyo central districts of Shinagawa, Shibuya and Minato were shut for the day.

ANA Holdings Inc. canceled 207 domestic flights and four international flights, affecting about 32,500 people, the Tokyo-based company said in a faxed statement. Japan Airlines Co. pulled 201 flights, affecting about 29,380 people, it said.

East Japan Railway Co., the country’s largest train operator, canceled or reduced services on dozens of lines, including bullet train operations, according to the company.

Trains Disrupted

Trains were disrupted on some Tokyu Corp. lines and alternative transport was arranged, the rail operator said on its website. Tokyo Metro Co., Japan’s largest subway operator, said services on seven lines were affected by the typhoon earlier in the day, according to a faxed statement from the company.

Several Japanese oil refining companies halted marine shipments yesterday as the typhoon approached. The plants where marine shipments were suspended were Idemitsu Kosan Co.’s Chiba and Aichi refineries, Cosmo Oil Co.’s Chiba refinery and JX Holdings Inc.’s Negishi, Sendai and Kashima refineries.

Prior to the typhoon’s arrival, Tepco bundled up cables and hoses, lowered cranes to keep heavy machinery from falling, and suspended ground and offshore construction work.

To prepare for Wipha, about 60 workers at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant were placed on standby to transfer water accumulating inside barriers that surround water tanks.

As rain began to lash the area, Tepco began releasing rainwater accumulated in some barriers, the company said in a series of statements today.

Earlier this month Typhoon Danas, which recorded gusts of 180 km per hour, tore through southern Japan, wrecking a town hall and forcing refinery operations to stop. Flights and ferry services were suspended.

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