Typhoon Halong 'leaves up to 10 dead in Japan'

Shingo Ito
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Photo taken on August 10, 2014 shows people crossing a wooden bridge over a flooded river in Kyoto, western Japan

Photo taken on August 10, 2014 shows people crossing a wooden bridge over a flooded river in Kyoto, western Japan (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

Tokyo (AFP) - At least 10 people died and dozens were injured as Typhoon Halong hurtled across the Japanese archipelago at the weekend, reports said Monday, with heavy rain still lashing the country's north.

The storm moved over the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and lurched towards Russia's far east coast Monday, after sweeping across Japan's largest and most populous island of Honshu.

The outer bands of the storm continued to lash northern Japan with heavy rain as officials warned of landslides, floods and possible tornadoes in the area.

The Japan Meteorological Agency downgraded the typhoon at 9:00 am Monday as it was off the Russian coast.

The National Police Agency confirmed that the storm, as well as heavy rain last week, killed at least two people and left two others missing.

A total of 96 people were injured, public broadcaster NHK reported.

But the Nikkei newspaper said that 10 deaths were linked to the storm with two others missing.

Among the victims, the body of an Iranian man was found in Ibaraki, northeast of Tokyo, while two Japanese women died in the country's west, the Nikkei said.

The coastguard on Monday resumed searching for a man who went missing apparently while surfing during the storm, off Wakayama in western Japan.

"Police and the coastguard dispatched one rescue boat and two helicopters but we have not found any sign of him," a police spokesman said.

Over the weekend about half a million people were ordered to evacuate while another 1.2 million were advised to leave their homes, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Television footage showed cars and street signs partially submerged by the rising waters.

- Runaway fireworks -

Local officials on Monday scrambled to clean up in the aftermath of the storm.

In Osaka, Halong forced the cancellation of a major fireworks event on Saturday after the storm washed away 21 launching boats, about half of them carrying unused pyrotechnics, a spokesman for the show told AFP.

He declined to elaborate but NHK reported that the boats, which were later found stuck down river, were carrying thousands of fireworks.

The Osaka city disaster prevention bureau said four workers also drifted away on the runaway boats, but they were later confirmed to be safe.

On Sunday, violent winds destroyed more than 460 buildings in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, injuring at least two people, NHK said.

Weather agency officials were investigating if those winds were actually generated by a tornado.

On Saturday the weather agency had issued its highest warning -- meaning a threat to life and the risk of massive damage -- for Mie prefecture, some 300 kilometres west of Tokyo.

The warning, which was lifted Sunday afternoon, said there could be "unprecedented" torrential rain that might trigger massive landslides and floods.

Airline services largely returned to normal on Monday with just a handful of flights cancelled after more than 700 flights were called off during the weekend, just as Japan began its annual "Obon" summer holiday.

In July, Typhoon Neoguri killed several people and left a trail of destruction in southern Japan.