Deadliest typhoon kills 55 in Japan
Japan's deadliest typhoon in more than a decade killed at least 55 people, officials said on Thursday as rescuers searched frantically for 33 still missing in floods and landslides.
The typhoon, which moved out into the Pacific early on Thursday and was downgraded to a tropical depression soon after, was a record 10th to hit Japan this year.
The death toll was the highest since the 62 people killed or still unaccounted for after a typhoon in 1991.
A total of 167 people, including 102 trainees aged around 20, were being slowly taken to shore from their ship, the 2,556-tonKaio Maru, which ran aground on a breakwater in the middle of the storm. Three suffered injuries such as broken wrists.
A Coast Guard official said: "Waves were crashing onto the deck, making it impossible for the crew and trainees to get out themselves."
Television showed people holding on to power poles to stay on their feet as the storm swept up the coast toward Tokyo.
Among the dead were three people killed when high waves battered through a concrete breakwater and smashed into their home in Kochi, on Shikoku island in western Japan.
"The waves just came up and crashed down on us," one woman said.
Telephone poles stuck up out of muddy water that still covered vast areas near the ancient capital city of Kyoto.
"The main reason why the typhoon caused such huge damage is that its size is big with a radius of over 300 miles. That means the typhoon affected almost all of Japan for a long time with rains and winds," a Meteorological Agency official said.
"Such a huge typhoon is very rare," he said.
Thirty-seven people, most of them elderly tourists, were forced to spend the night huddled together on top of a bus after being stranded by floodwater.
"The wind was very strong, it was raining very hard, it was cold. We all held onto each other's shoulders to stay together," one man on the bus told NHK national television.
"We were very scared."
The storm sideswiped Tokyo, buffeting the city with strong winds and rain, before heading out to sea. It was downgraded to a tropical depression at around 9 a.m. on Thursday (2000 GMT on Wednesday).
During the worst of the storm, thousands of people were urged to evacuate to schools and public halls out of fear of flooding and landslides. At least 40,000 homes lost power.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda promised government help for affected areas.
"I would like to express my heartfelt condolences ... We will take all possible measures," he told reporters.
Storms and floods have killed more than 100 people in Japan this year and
caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The previous typhoon, Ma-on,
pummeled Tokyo and killed six people across the country earlier this month.