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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Japan lashed by Typhoon Songda
Priests of Itsukushima shrine inspect a stone lantern under torrential rain strong wind in Miyajima, western Japan, Tuesday, Sept 7
Japan's famous Itsukushima shrine has taken a battering
Typhoon Songda has now caused the deaths of more than 20 people as it swept up Japan, local reports said.

More than 700 others had been injured in incidents related to the typhoon by Wednesday morning, Kyodo news said.

Typhoon Songda first hit Japan at the week end, when it made landfall on the country's southern Okinawa islands.

It then moved north up Japan's western coast and is now lashing the northernmost island of Hokkaido, where it has been downgraded to a storm.

In addition to the dead, 15 crewmen are reported to still be missing after one ship ran aground and another sank in western Japan on Tuesday.

The winds are gusting at up to 30 metres per second in Hokkaido - below the 33 metres which give the storm typhoon status - but enough to knock over signposts and trees.

We taped our windows and huddled under covers as the howling of the wind was just too much
Saee, Oita, Japan

Flight schedules were disrupted again on Wednesday, affecting more than 14,000 passengers, Kyodo news agency reported.

At noon on Wednesday (0400 GMT) Songda - or Typhoon 18 - was located about 120km south-west of Wakkanai in northern Hokkaido and was heading north-northeast at 35km per hour, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Further south and west, the clear-up was beginning. Workers began rescue operations on the world famous Itsukushima Shrine which is built over water off Hiroshima.

"There is damage from both water and wind. The damage is so large that I'm dumbfounded," said an official at the shrine.

Japan's Agriculture Ministry estimates the cost of damage to crops alone from this summer's typhoons at 200bn yen ($1.83bn).

Songda is the third typhoon to hit Japan in three weeks and follows Typhoon Chaba, which killed at least 13 people and Typhoon Megi which killed at least 10.

The country has also been jolted by three strong earthquakes in recent days.

38 people were hurt when earthquakes of magnitude 6.9 and 7.3 shook western Japan at the week end. A third quake, of magnitude 6.4, hit central and western Japan on Tuesday.


Were you affected by the Typhoon or earthquakes? Send us your comments and experiences on the form below

Typhoon 18 hit Hiroshima yesterday afternoon and boy was it exciting! Not having to go to work, my partner and I stayed home all day and watched the excitement from my large window. It was like being in the Wizard of Oz with debris and roofs flying past the window. It did escalate to the point that I prepared an emergency survival kit in my apartment entrance should the window smash! It was a very dramatic birthday few days for my partner as we experienced the earthquakes on the Sunday night followed by the typhoon on the Tuesday. Up until now, every time there has been a typhoon warning I've thought that people were paranoid but yesterday has changed my mind. It was definitely more fierce than I could have imagined.
Nicky Fernandes, Hiroshima, Japan

The worst of the typhoon has gone by us now. There hasn't been much damage and we've had brilliant sunshine most of the day. But the winds are still strong and the building is still shaking in the wind. Only a few hours ago I was in the cinema watching a film when a mild earthquake happened. None of the Japanese there moved so we didn't either - I was on edge throughout the rest of the film - the earthquake made the film scarier as you weren't sure if the movements in the building were from the movie or aftershocks!
Angharad, Hokkaido, Japan

I must say that the latest is the strongest by far that has happened during my stay in Japan and most of the so called "typhoons" wouldn't even register as a windy day back in Blighty. So far, no more ground movements since 8.30am yesterday morning and I truly hope it stays that way.
Alison Darling, Osaka, Japan (from Wiltshire, England)

The eighteenth typhoon of the season, Typhoon Songda, is building up to a crescendo right now outside my apartment, and I have just been sent home from work early. Many Japanese people at work are worried and school today was cancelled. Where I live, near Kobe, isn't expected to bear the brunt of the damage, unlike the islands of Okinawa or Kyushu, which are far more exposed. As an English person in Japan, Sunday's earthquakes were the first earthquakes I've felt and they were quite impressive! Thankfully the epicentre was some way out to sea and so all that happened where I live was some sustained shaking for about thirty seconds; just enough to cause some objects to fall off shelving. On my way out of the office, a Japanese colleague told me "Don't die in typhoon, please". I'll try not to.
Laura Starnes, Miki City, Hyogo, Japan

It has been an amazing few days in Osaka. I had never experienced an earthquake before in my life and for the first time in 15 months living in Japan the ground, unexpectedly started vibrating while I was on my break at work eating dinner. Seeing the cars and homes moving as well as the 20 floor building I work in sway from side to side. Then at home while reading about the first earthquake, the apartment started to vibrate and glasses jumping about and the ceiling moving as if it was cardboard!

This was the second one within 5 hours. Watching the TV and listening to the tsunami warnings was somewhat frightening. I thought the quakes were over but this morning while in deep sleep, I was awoken only to feel my room shaking from side to side! I thought it was a dream but it was another earthquake! At the moment there are strong gusty winds obviously from the powerful Typhoon Songda (number 18) and I'm sitting here wondering when the next one is going to occur!
Matt, Osaka, Japan

Very strong winds, and I can feel my apartment moving with each gust
Claire Henstock, Toyooka, Japan
This is my second year in Japan and in the space of a few days I have felt my first earthquake, and am currently sheltering from the worst typhoon I have experienced. I will never complain about English weather again. The earthquake was vaguely exciting. We only felt ripples here, and even though objects rattled they didn't fall off the shelves. It was like being on a fairground ride. Saying that, I have had enough of earthquakes now to last me my lifetime. The typhoon really is powerful. Very strong winds, and I can feel my apartment moving with each gust. It's rather scary.
Claire Henstock, Toyooka, Japan

I been through many earthquakes in Japan over the years, but the quakes last Sunday night (and this morning) were the longest I have ever experienced. They lasted about 30 seconds, during which time you wonder how much longer they will go on for and will they get stronger or not. At least they were sideways vibrations (swaying) which are less frightening and cause less damage than the up and down types. Kyoto didn't get the full force of the last Typhoon, but did get a huge downpour for six hours with some local flooding. We are now bracing ourselves for the next one (No. 18) which will hit Kyoto this evening.
Nigel R. Puttergill, Kyoto, Japan

The typhoon was awful (my house is still shaking, actually). We taped our windows and huddled under covers as the howling of the wind was just too much. The whole night passed without us being able to sleep a wink - the doors and shutters kept banging. The metal gate to my neighbour's home was torn off, and moved slowly towards our home. It was honestly terrifying - we now have a fallen tree, broken pipe(s), fences bent beyond recognition, and a totally ravaged vegetable garden. We still haven't been able to contact some friends who went out to the nearby hot-spring(s). We just hope that they're fine, and unhurt (and haven't been crazy/drunk enough to have ventured out to "check out" the typhoon by themselves).
Saee, Oita, Japan

It is 12 pm Local time today, Hiroshima has been affected by Typhoon No 18. Early afternoon the situation was getting worse and worse as windows of buildings where smashed to join together the rain making a dangerous cocktail for people on the streets. Strong winds make walking so difficult especially for old people.
Dimitrios Zacharopoulos, Hiroshima

I felt the first quake on Sunday while tucking in to some Yaki Niku in Mizonokuchi, I was on the second floor and you could feel it was a strong one. Although after more than two years of living in Japan and experiencing many tremors they are still unnerving and you cannot wait for them to stop, even more so was the second later on Sunday, being woken up by your bed shaking is even more worrying, though most of the locals take the quakes in their stride.
Spencer Doran, Futako Tamagawa, Tokyo, (Ex England)

Yes, we were affected by the two earthquakes on 5/09/04 and one this morning (07/09/04). The two on 05/09 were quite strong with the second being felt the most and lasting for what seemed like 45 seconds. The murmur was loud and the ground under us really shook.
Jenny Theologidis, Nagoya-Japan

I am only in Western Japan for a month visiting my partner, but since I arrived two weeks ago there has been a vast variety of powerful weather conditions here. I have never before had to sit in a car on bendy country roads with blinding heavy rain pouring on the windscreen (typhoon last week), nor feel a strong tremor or two from three different earthquakes!

I was in Osaka when the first struck at 7pm two days ago, sat in a fast food eatery when the floor swayed beneath us, and then climbing into bed once back in Mitsue that same night our whole house shook, glasses smashed off the table! It's really quite amazing what is normal to the Japanese people in terms of weather, what they endure year in year out. All the rice crops in this village were ruined by the typhoon, and it seems that's the primary income source here. Coming from London/Leeds, I've never experienced anything like it, so I'm part excited afterwards, but especially during tremors I can't deny there's some fear felt.
Sasha Taylor, Mitsue Mura, Nara Prefecture, Japan

I live in Hiroshima, which is currently being blasted by winds strong enough to sway my apartment block. Outside bicycles lie helter-skelter along the sidewalks, along with branches, twisted umbrellas and even road signs. Each time the wind picks up ferociously I feel a wave of panic, and this has been going on now for hours. It's draining.
Martin, Hiroshima, Japan

The Japanese people have an amazing level of resilience
Richard Hackett, Kobe, Japan
I came to Japan in late July as a Jet programme participant. I must admit that I thought the extreme weather warnings that are constantly broadcast were media scaremongering, but since experiencing all three earthquakes and spending today sitting in a school without students (due to safety precautions over the coming typhoon). I think the Japanese people have an amazing level of resilience. The morning after the double quake, the second of which was stronger than that which destroyed parts of Kobe in 1995, my train still arrived at precisely 7.47am the next morning.

Victoria line trains are consistently late even without the slightest hint of extreme weather. Imagine they had to deal with an earthquake and a typhoon - London would be brought to its knees! We marvel at how Japan runs its infrastructure so efficiently. They marvel at how things could be run any other way.
Richard Hackett, Kobe, Japan

It seems like natural disaster central at the moment. I live just outside Osaka and the two earthquakes on Sunday were the first that I had ever experienced. My apartment is on the 15th floor and I woke up at midnight and could feel the building shaking, swaying and rattling. It was one the scariest moments of my life. I couldn't believe it this morning when I felt another one. Japanese people seem to cope well and despite the earthquake the trains were only running about 10 minutes late!
heather Dawick, Amagasaki, Japan

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SEE ALSO:
Preparing for 'the Big One'
06 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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