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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
Japan hit by deadly storm
Women with umbrellas in Tokyo
Commuters battled their way home as the storm neared
Japan has been battered by one of the worst storms the country has seen in decades.

Typhoon Higos smashed into Tokyo - rarely hit by such storms - downing power lines and damaging buildings.


This is one of the most powerful typhoons to come [near Tokyo] in the last 50 years

Meteorological Agency official
At least four people were killed as the typhoon, with gusts of more than 190 km/h (120 mph), sped through Tokyo and moved north onto the island of Hokkaido before being downgraded to a tropical storm.

But officials said the speed that the storm was travelling limited its destruction and on Wednesday, people in Tokyo woke up to clear skies.

Up to 200 millimetres (8 inches) of rain was predicted and many homes were already reported to be flooded as the storm also caused massive disruption to flight and train services.

Typhoon Higos, which means "fig" in the native language of the Pacific island of Guam, hit land on Tuesday, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of Tokyo.

Electrocutions

In Chiba, near Tokyo, a 49-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman were electrocuted in separate incidents by severed electric cables.

Police said a 53-year-old security guard in nearby Yokohama was killed when he was hit by a window that fell from the ninth floor of a building.

A 20-year-old Indonesian fisherman drowned in Miyagi prefecture while trying to tie his boat to a dock.

Search crews were still looking for a 21-year-old woman who was swept out to sea when she went to watch the storm-whipped waves off Kanagawa.

More than 50 people were injured as the typhoon made its way across Japan.

Typhoon Higos
Gusts up to 190 km/h
200mm rain predicted
Two men killed
Power cuts to 900,000 homes
270 flights cancelled
Flooding feared

An official from the Meteorological Agency said: "This is one of the most powerful typhoons to come near the Kanto region [around Tokyo] in the last 50 years."

Though typhoons are common in the Pacific - Higos is the 21st of the season - their passage generally spares Tokyo.

More than 270 domestic flights were cancelled, mostly around the northern parts of Japan.

Rail services were also disrupted, including the bullet-train, with trees and other debris reported to be blocking lines.

Electricity pylons were toppled and more than 300,000 homes in northern Japan suffered blackouts, 120,000 of them in Chibu near Tokyo, and power was also cut to more than 600,000 homes in the centre of the country.

Crop worries

Flooding was also reported in the north and there were fears for damage to rice and apple crops which are about to be harvested.

Last month 29 people were injured in a typhoon that hit the south islands of Okinawa.

In July the remnants of Typhoon Chata'an caused widespread flooding in northern Japan and left five people dead.

Tokyo had braced itself for the storm but it missed the city.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Bottomley
"The power of the storm was intense"
See also:

15 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
14 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
05 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Sep 00 | Science/Nature
30 Apr 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


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