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Dozens dead, missing in worst typhoon since '79
The Asahi Shimbun

Passengers and drivers wait to be rescued from the roofs of their submerged vehicles early Thursday in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture.
Passengers and drivers wait to be rescued from the roofs of their submerged vehicles early Thursday in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture.

Extensive flooding, along with mudslides, add to the misery of already battered communities.

The deadliest typhoon to batter Japan in more than two decades cut a swath of destruction through the archipelago that took at least 65 lives, police and rescue officials said Thursday. Twenty-one others were missing.

The body count in 20 prefectures as of 6 p.m. Thursday was exceeded in recent memory only by a typhoon in October 1979 that left 111 people dead or missing, according to National Police Agency officials.

Typhoon No. 23, a storm of mega-proportions, was the 10th to make landfall this season. It raged from midday Wednesday through early Thursday, leaving almost no area untouched by torrential rain, howling winds, floods and landslides.

It was downgraded Thursday morning to an extratropical depression and passed into the Pacific Ocean, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The most severe damage was in Shikoku and in Okayama, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures.

But it was a familiar story across the nation: Seaside and river embankments collapsed; homes were extensively damaged or destroyed; and trains derailed. There were also numerous landslides because of soil sodden by the recent string of typhoons and downpours.

Residents became stranded while others fell and were killed or were swept to their deaths. Air, rail, road and sea transportation services were paralyzed.

Five people were reported dead in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, where seven homes were destroyed by a landslide. By Thursday, rescuers had pulled five bodies from the mud.

In Hyogo Prefecture, where 21 people were reported dead or missing, seven houses were damaged or destroyed and 4,929 homes were flooded as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

In Toyooka, in the same prefecture, the embankment of the Maruyamagawa river that runs through the city collapsed during the night, flooding more than 1,000 households.

In Kyoto Prefecture, 1,083 homes flooded. Officials there reported landslides in 95 locations and river flooding in 32 areas. Thirteen people were reported dead or missing.

In Muroto, Kochi Prefecture, a 30-meter stretch of an embankment collapsed due to high waves around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, damaging public housing and killing three people. The top 2 meters of the 3-meter-high embankment were destroyed by waves.

Six people were reported dead in Kochi Prefecture.

In Nagano Prefecture, a two-car train on the JR Iida Line derailed in Tatsuno and toppled into a rice paddy, slightly injuring three passengers and its driver.

Another derailment occurred on the JR Chuo Line a little past midnight in the prefecture's village of Narakawa, without injury.

The accidents left the Iida and Chuo lines partially suspended throughout Thursday.

Even after the typhoon had passed, transportation systems remained fragile. Many domestic morning flights were canceled.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways canceled a total of 95 flights Thursday, affecting around 24,000 passengers. Five international flights were canceled that had been scheduled to land at Nagoya and elsewhere, as well as one due to arrive at Narita International Airport. About 1,100 passengers were affected.

Part of the Nagano Expressway between Toyoshina and Omi was still shut down after a landslide blocked the road.

And a training sailing vessel, Kaiwo Maru, belonging to the National Institute of Sea Training grounded on a breakwater off Toyama port Wednesday night, leaving its crew and students stranded. The 167 crew and trainees were rescued by the Japan Coast Guard on Thursday. Five were hospitalized for broken bones and other injuries.(IHT/Asahi: October 22,2004) (10/22)


Herald Tribune/Asahi

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