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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 08:13 GMT
Deadly tornado hits town in Japan
Firefighters and other rescuers shift through the rubble after a tornado hit the town of Saroma  - 7/11/06
Tornados are rarely deadly in Japan

At least nine people have been killed and more than 15 injured when a tornado swept through a town in northern Japan.

Officials said two other people were still missing in the town of Saroma, on the island of Hokkaido.

Most of the deaths were caused by the collapse of temporary accommodation at a tunnel construction site.

Fire and ambulance crews are at the site, but a spokesman for the local fire department said rescue efforts were being hampered by heavy rain.

Police said workers were buried under prefabricated buildings that had collapsed at the site, after the tornado hit around lunchtime.

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The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Tokyo, says the temporary homes and offices used by construction workers were just torn apart.

Television pictures showed rescuers sifting through the debris, crawling through the remains of the shelters and rolling cars away from the scene as they searched for survivors.

Local government officials said 10 buildings collapsed elsewhere in the town.

Small tornadoes happen from time to time in Japan - there are about 20 each year - but this one appears to have resulted in an unexpectedly high death toll.

Previously, the most deadly tornado recorded in Japan was in September 2006, when three people were killed on the southern island of Kyushu.


SEE ALSO
How a tornado is formed
08 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Country profile: Japan
26 Sep 06 |  Country profiles



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