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Sunday, October 18, 1998 Published at 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Pacific typhoon death toll rises

Landslides flattened at least two Japanese homes

Violent weather conditions have claimed at least 12 lives in Japan, as Typhoon Zeb swept across the country.

The storm earlier caused 90 deaths and millions of dollars' worth of damage in the Philippines and Taiwan.

Samantha Simmonds reports on the typhoon
Japanese police say six people were killed when mudslides engulfed their homes, and over 1,000 people have been evacuated from areas threatened by rising water levels.

Two men were reported missing after being washed over a sea wall on the southern island of Okinawa. Waves up to eight metres (26 feet) were reported.

The typhoon, which has weakened after its deadly rampage through the Philippines and Taiwan, still packed winds of 90 kilometres an hour (56 mph) as it struck the island of Kyushu on Saturday afternoon.

Deadly landslides

A 40-year-old housewife and her two sons, aged five and seven, were killed in western Okayama prefecture when their house was flattened by a landslide.

Another mudslide killed an elderly couple near Hiroshima. The state broadcaster NHK reported 44 injured nationwide.

Meteorologists in Tokyo said the typhoon had been downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday morning.

The weather system is heading north-west across the Japanese mainland. Ferry services and some flights have been cancelled.

Counting the cost

[ image: Landslide victims are retrieved from mountains north of Manila]
Landslide victims are retrieved from mountains north of Manila
A clearer picture has emerged of the devastation caused by the storm in Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwanese officials have lifted the typhoon warning, enabling rescuers to continue their search for at least 13 people still missing.

Two more bodies were found late on Friday, buried alive by landslides under collapsed homes in Taipei.

BBC Manila correspondent John Mclean: Six provinces declared calamity areas in northern Philippines
At least 20 people are now thought to have died on the island, where government offices, financial markets, schools and businesses closed down while the typhoon passed. Agricultural losses there have been estimated at US $57.6 million.

Taiwan's air and sea traffic was almost back to normal on Saturday, but many mountain roads were impassable.

Super typhoon

The worst damage was inflicted in the northern Philippines, where winds of up to 240 km per hour (150 mph) gave the weather system the status of super typhoon.

President Joseph Estrada declared six provinces on the island of Luzon as calamity areas, and armed forces were called in to help with the relief operation.

More than 4,500 homes were destroyed or damaged, as torrential rainfall caused landslides and floods.

Meteorologists say more trouble may be in store. Tropical storm Babs lies to the East of the Philippines and is strengthening as it approaches.

The Philippines is hit by more than 20 tropical cyclones every year. The most destructive in recent years was Typhoon Angela in 1995, which killed 700 people.

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