Desperate families searched through the night for scores of missing Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast, where Hurricane Felix blew away villages, flooded rivers and killed at least 18 people. Two deaths in Honduras were blamed on Felix.
Emergency officials were sending badly needed aid to the regional capital of Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua, but had yet to reach isolated villages cut off by the storm where civil defense officials said at least 60 people were missing.
Felix came ashore on Tuesday as a Category 5 hurricane, the highest level, bringing winds and heavy rains that caused mudslides, destroyed homes, uprooted trees and devastated villages.
On Wednesday, Nicaraguan Civil Defense Department spokesman Alvaro Rivas said the confirmed death toll had doubled to at least 18. He said more than 50 people were missing in the Matagalpa Province in the north, where rivers overflowed their banks, and another 10 missing around the hard-hit coastal city of Puerto Cabezas.
In Honduras, two deaths were attributed to the hurricane, and nearly 30,000 people were evacuated from across the country, with nearly 10,000 seeking refuge in government shelters.
A strong typhoon closed in on Tokyo yesterday, bringing downpours and gusts that injured five people and disrupted hundreds of flights, officials and reports said.
Japan was on high alert for landslides and floods as it braced for Typhoon Fitow, which was expected to hit the capital and its vicinity by early today.
Typhoon Fitow, packing winds of up to 126kph near its center, was in the Pacific and some 200km southwest of Tokyo yesterday evening, the meteorological agency said.
If the typhoon maintains its current force, it would be the strongest to hit Japan since an October 2004 typhoon that killed dozens of people.
Public broadcaster NHK said at least five people had been injured.
Fitow was moving north at the speed of 20kph.
The strong wind cut off some electric lines, causing small blackouts, while regional authorities urged 76 households in central Yamanashi and Gunma prefectures to evacuate, NHK said.
At Tokyo's Haneda airport, more than 174 flights, almost all scheduled to take off or land in the evening, were canceled, NHK said.
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