typhoon leaves two dead, heads north from Okinawa to main Japan islands
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[July 09, 2014]
TOKYO (Reuters) - Torrential rains
from a weakened but still dangerous typhoon battered Japan's Okinawa
islands on Wednesday, leaving two dead and threatening widespread
flooding as the storm headed for the nation's main islands.
Typhoon Neoguri, a super typhoon as it bore down on Okinawa this
week, had winds gusting up to 162 kph (100 mph) on Wednesday, but
weather forecasters said the major concern now was rain, especially
as parts of the westernmost main island of Kyushu have already been
hit by heavy rain over the last week.
Authorities warned of record rainfall in Okinawa as rivers in some
areas overflowed. More than 200,000 residents were told to leave
their homes, down from over 500,000 on Tuesday.
"Given the situation, there is still potential for some serious
damage," an official from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA)
told a news conference.
Some 30 people were injured, mainly from falls, but none of the
injuries was life-threatening. Television footage showed a collapsed
building and flooded streets in Okinawa.
Neoguri was moving north across the East China Sea at 20 kph as of 9
a.m. (2000 ET), with sustained winds of 126 kph. It was expected to
draw near Kyushu on Thursday morning before moving east along the
main island of Honshu.
"This typhoon has very active rain clouds and this will continue as
it moves east over areas that have already been hit by downpours as
part of the rainy season," said a JMA official.
"Given how soaked the ground is in some parts of Kyushu already,
there is a high danger of landslides and floods, even though the
typhoon's strength is diminishing."
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There are two nuclear plants on Kyushu and another on nearby Shikoku
All of Japan's 48 nuclear reactors are shut down three years after
the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was
wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The stricken
plant is on the other side of the country.
Nansei Sekiyu KK, a Japanese refiner wholly owned by Brazil's
Petrobras, suspended operations at its 100,000 barrels-per-day
Nishihara refinery in Okinawa on Monday evening and still had not
resumed them on Wednesday.
Tokyo may see heavy rains on Friday but the impact on the capital is
otherwise expected to be minimal, the JMA official said. Around two
to four typhoons make landfall in Japan each year but they are
unusual in July.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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