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More than a million evacuated in Japan as Typhoon Roke nears

September 21, 2011


More than a million evacuated in Japan as Typhoon Roke nears

 Typhoon Roke Photo: NASA/REUTERS

Typhoon Roke – the 15th Pacific storm of the season – was expected to make landfall in central Japan today, before moving in a northeasterly direction across the country, and possibly passing near the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The storm arrives just weeks after another typhoon swept across Japan leaving more than 90 people dead or missing and causing widespread flooding, mudslides and structural damage.

This time, about 1.1 million people in the industrial city of Nagaya in central Japan’s Aichi prefecture were urged to evacuate as the storm approached, with wind gusts of up to 134 mph.

Nagoya officials also called the Self-Defence Forces to send in troops for disaster prevention amid growing fears of flooding, with television footage showing residents being rescued from flooded streets in rubber boats.

“In Aichi, the heavy rain is causing some rivers to overflow,” said an official for the Meteorological Agency. “I would like to ask people to exercise the greatest caution against potential disasters from torrential rain, strong winds and high waves.” Further evacuation orders were also issued in towns across Western Japan, while police in Gifu prefecture reported that a nine-year-old boy and a man, aged 84, had disappeared after falling into swollen rivers.

Production at Toyota Motor Corp was scheduled to be temporarily suspended as a precaution, while a number of bullet train services and more than 200 domestic flights were cancelled.

Meanwhile, some construction work around the Fukushima nuclear power plant was also cancelled and efforts were underway to prevent radioactive water leaks as a result of the typhoon.

However, Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co, operators of the plant, said that its crucial reactor cooling systems would not be endangered by the typhoon.

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