heads out to sea after leaving at least one dead in Japan
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[October 06, 2014]
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - A typhoon lashed Japan
with torrential rain on Monday after killing at least one person,
forcing the cancellation of flights and prompting warnings to more than
200,000 people to evacuate their homes before heading out to sea.
Three U.S. servicemen were swept away by high waves lashing the
southwestern island of Okinawa on Sunday as Typhoon Phanfone
approached. One was found dead and two were missing. A surfer was
swept out to sea.
The storm brushed past the capital, Tokyo, and by early afternoon
was out over the Pacific, leaving behind skies clear enough that
Mount Fuji was clearly visible to the southwest.
Heavy rains had forced the cancellation of a search for victims of
Mount Ontake, with 12 people still missing after an eruption last
week killed at least 51. A score of households in the foothills of
the peak were evacuated out of concerns that heavy rains could cause
mudslides as ash was washed downstream.
Tropical Storm Risk, which tracks cyclones, labeled Phanfone a
category one typhoon, the lowest rung on a scale of one to five, and
said it was likely to weaken to a tropical storm later on Monday. It
was category four as it approached.
Close to 200,000 households were urged to evacuate due to fears of
landslides or flooding as rivers threatened to burst their banks.
This included some 20,000 in Tokyo.
Wind blew heavy rain into sheets, booming between buildings in the
city. A car in the neighboring city of Yokohama was buried in
branches from a fallen tree. One part of the central city of
Shizuoka had 9 cm (3.5 inches) of rain in an hour.
Phanfone made landfall near the central city of Hamamatsu, prompting
Honda to halt production at its Hamamatsu and Suzuka plants, while
Nissan said it was halting production at its Oppama plant. Toyota
said it was halting production at 12 plants. All said they would
resume production Monday afternoon.
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Six hundred domestic flights were canceled, with Japan Airlines
saying it had canceled 19 international flights. Service west on the
Shinkansen bullet train was briefly suspended and commuter train
services were delayed or suspended in the capital, affecting
millions of commuters.
Tokyo Electric Power Company said it had taken preventive steps at
the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, securing equipment,
cables and ropes.
Heavy rain delayed the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday,
which eventually saw two starts behind the safety car and ended
before the full distance due to a crash in which French driver Jules
Bianchi suffered a severe head injury.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies, Yoko Kubota and Kentaro Hamada; Editing
by Nick Macfie)
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