The powerful Typhoon Roke barreled up Japan’s main island Wednesday, downing power lines, flipping vehicles, halting trains, and ultimately bringing more woe to a nation already trying to recover from a slew of natural disasters.
The storm, packing sustained winds of up to 103 mph, made landfall in the early afternoon near the city of Hamamatsu, about 200 kilometres west of Tokyo. The fast-moving storm went past the capital in the evening and then headed into the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the March 11 tsunami.
Police and local authorities said that in its wake, Roke left nearly 260,000 households without power and six people dead or missing – the majority of them believed to be swept away by rivers swollen with rains from the deadly typhoon.
In addition, about 40 train lines operated by East Japan Railway Co., including bullet-train routes, were stopped, 300 domestic airline flights were canceled, and Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s No. 1 automaker, was forced to temporarily halt operations at 11 of its factories.
While there were initial concerns that the typhoon could affect Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, which went into a nuclear crisis after the March disaster, officials now say that Roke’s driving winds and rains caused no immediate problems there other than a broken security camera.
“The worst seems to be over,” said Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for the plant, after the storm passed just west of the plant and then headed north.
Typhoon Roke comes just weeks after Typhoon Talas killed 67 people, and left dozens of others injured in central Japan.