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17 killed as typhoon hits Japan's coast

Updated: 2013-10-17 07:25
By Agencies in Tokyo ( China Daily)

At least 17 people died as a typhoon lashed Japan's Pacific coast on Wednesday, media reports said, with the death toll likely to rise.

Typhoon Wipha, called the strongest in 10 years, caused landslides that buried houses as it churned past an island just south of Tokyo.

Public broadcaster NHK and Jiji Press reported that at least 16 people died and 51 were unaccounted for on Oshima after houses were destroyed or swept away by a series of landslides and floods on the island, 120 km south of Tokyo.

A police official on Oshima said earlier, "We've confirmed that 13 people have died, and the number is likely to increase."

In western Tokyo, a woman's body was recovered from a river.

Many of the bodies of those who died on Oshima were found in houses struck by landslides sent crashing down mountainsides by torrential rain and strong winds.

Two of the bodies were found in a swollen river and another was pulled from a crushed house, NHK said.

Footage from the island showed ruined wooden houses half buried in mud. Mangled trees and other debris were piled up around them.

The storm dumped more than 12 cm of rain on Oshima in an hour, the meteorological agency said.

Many residents sought shelter in evacuation centers, reporting that dirty water had gushed into their homes, media reports said.

NHK said police and firefighters were having difficulty in reaching some stricken areas.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police said earlier it was sending about 50 special officers to the island as reinforcements, Jiji Press said.

Three helicopters and several servicemen were sent to Oshima to help with the rescue effort at the request of the Tokyo metropolitan government, a defense ministry spokesman said.

More than 400 flights to and from Tokyo were cancelled, most of them domestic, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines said.

The cancellations affected the plans of about 61,600 travelers, the airlines said.