A typhoon caused deadly mudslides that buried people and destroyed homes on a Japanese island on Wednesday before sweeping up the Pacific coast, grounding hundreds of flights and paralysing public transportation in Tokyo. At least 14 deaths were reported and more than 50 people were missing.

One woman from Tokyo died after falling into a river and being washed 10 kilometres downriver to Yokohama, police said. Two sixth-grade boys and another person were missing on Japan’s main island, Honshu, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

More than 350 homes have been damaged or destroyed, including 283 on Izu Oshima, it said.

Typhoon Wipha, which stayed offshore in the Pacific, had sustained winds of 126 kilometres per hour with gusts up to 180 kph.

More than 80 centimetres of rain fell on Izu Oshima during a 24-hour period ending on Wednesday morning, a record since record-keeping began in 1991.

The rainfall was particularly heavy before dawn, the kind in which “you can’t see anything or hear anything,” Japan Meteorological Agency official Yoshiaki Yano said.

As a precaution, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant released tons of rainwater that were being held behind protective barriers around storage tanks for radioactive water. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said only water below an allowable level of radioactivity was released, which Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority allowed on Tuesday.


Typhoon, mudslides kill 18 in Japan October 17, 2013

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