Powerful storm hits northern Japan; 32 dead
Japan's coast guard on Wednesday found five more bodies from an Indonesian cargo ship that ran aground during a powerful typhoon that killed at least 32 people and injured hundreds.
The tropical storm, which was downgraded Wednesday from a typhoon after losing some of its devastating force, was centred at the northern tip of Hokkaido island and headed northwest with sustained winds of almost 110 kilometres an hour.
As much as 20 centimetres of rain was forecast for Hokkaido and other areas of northern Japan through Wednesday evening, the Meteorological Agency said.
Typhoon Songda carved a path of destruction Tuesday along the country's western coast, leaving about 1.6 million households without power, demolishing 27 homes and flooding 1,458 buildings, Japanese media said.
Officials advised 20,000 households to evacuate, Kyodo News reported.
Power was restored to many homes by Wednesday, although about 390,000 homes were still without electricity, authorities and utilities said.
The storm has killed at least 32 people, while 14 were missing, Kyodo News reported. Public broadcaster NHK said 948 people had been injured.
Typhoon Songda was the record seventh typhoon to hit Japan this year, exceeding the six storms that lashed the country in 1990, the Meteorological Agency said.
The discovery of the five dead sailors brought the death toll on the Indonesian ship to 11. The remainder of the 22-member crew of the Tri Ardhianto were still missing, a spokesman for the 6th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters said on condition of anonymity.
The 6,300-tonne vessel ran aground, broke in half and sank Tuesday as typhoon Songda pummelled southern Japan with powerful winds and high waves.
Stormy seas also sank a Cambodia-registered freighter, Blue Ocean, carrying 18 Russian crew in western Hatsukaichi harbour. Fourteen were rescued, but two died and two others were still missing, a Hiroshima Coast Guard Bureau spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
A man in his 60s was struck by a windblown tree branch early Wednesday and later died at a Sapporo city hospital, Hokkaido prefectural police spokesman Akihiro Ishikawa said. An elderly woman also died after being hit by flying debris.
Also in Hokkaido, a man in his 70s was reported missing after he left Hakodate port aboard a small boat but failed to return hours later.
NHK said Wednesday that hundreds of residents along Japan's western coast continued to wait out the storm at shelters.
In western Hiroshima prefecture, officials at Itsukushima shrine began extensive repairs to the 13th-century wooden complex. A spokeswoman for the shrine said part of the structure's roof had been blown away and a large section that sits in the sea at high tide had been torn apart by strong waves.
NHK reported more than 100 flights were cancelled nationwide, while most train and ferry operators in Hokkaido and other parts of northern Japan had halted services.
Authorities warned of possible landslides caused by a combination of heavy rains and aftershocks that followed weekend earthquakes in the western part of the country. Sunday's tremors - magnitude 6.9 and 7.4 - left 43 people injured.