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18 hurt as typhoon pounds Japan

A typhoon churns off the Japanese coast on Friday after injuring 18 people and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, officials said.
By Miwa Suzuki | AFP, Tokyo
UPDATED ON AUG 03, 2007 11:55 AM IST

A typhoon was churning off the Japanese coast on Friday after injuring 18 people and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, officials said.

Typhoon Usagi slammed into southern Japan late on Thursday and veered to hit western provinces before crossing into the Sea of Japan (East Sea) where it was weakening.

Television footage showed flooded rivers, uprooted trees and drenched people whose bicycles and umbrellas were blown away at the peak of the storm.

Japan's famed bullet trains ground to a halt between the main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu, with railway officials turning a train stranded in Hiroshima into a makeshift hotel where they served meals.

Usagi, which means rabbit in Japanese, hit Japan just two weeks after a killer typhoon ravaged nearby areas.

A total of 18 people were injured in the latest typhoon, police and municipal officials said.

"A gust made a 30-year-old man's postal delivery car tumble as he was backing up," hurting him in the stomach, said Yasuo Ishitomo, a crisis management official in Hiroshima prefecture.

An elderly woman was seriously injured in Kagoshima prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu.

"A sudden wind blew away the 81-year-old woman, breaking her left thigh," a municipal official said.

Among the other injured people was a 49-year-old woman whose index finger was chopped off as a gust slammed a door shut in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki.

A 52-year-old carpenter broke his right wrist as he fell from the roof of a house under construction while a 42-year-old man suffered head wounds when he fell three metres (10 feet) from the roof of his house.

Municipal governments advised tens of thousands of people to evacuate amid gusts and downpour. The storm triggered 19 landslides on Kyushu.
The typhoon weakened somewhat by early Friday and was moving north in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) at 108 kilometres (67 miles) an hour.

As hot air was being sucked into the storm system, temperatures were rising in many places, including the central city of Kashiwazaki which was hit by a deadly earthquake on July 16.

Slumped-over elderly evacuees fanned themselves in shelters as temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday. The mercury was also expected to rise past 35 degrees in the region on Friday.

Packing winds of up to 89 kilometres (51 miles) an hour, the typhoon was on course to move over the northern island of Hokkaido by early Sunday. But it is forecast to dissipate into a moderate depression by then.

About two weeks ago, three people were killed in Typhoon Man-ii, one of the most powerful typhoons to hit Japan in decades. A fourth person remains unaccounted for.

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