Mon, Jun 21, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Three dead as typhoon Dianmu hits Japan

AP , TOKYO

A fallen tree blocks part of a road as typhoon Diamu approaches Naha on the southernmost Japanese island of Okinawa yesterday. The Meteorological Agency said the typhoon, with winds of over 160km per hour near its center, may hit western Japan today, warning of strong winds, heavy rains and high waves throughout the Japanese archipelago.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Powerful winds and towering waves pummeled southern Japan yesterday as typhoon Dianmu headed north toward the country's more densely populated main islands. Officials said three people had died from accidents in stormy seas.

The typhoon had gusts of up to 162km per hour and sustained winds of more than 90km per hour, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

On Sunday afternoon, it was centered about 1,300km southwest of Tokyo.

The agency classified Dianmu -- "Mother of Lightning" in Mandarin -- as "large and very powerful," and said it could hit Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu by this morning.

The typhoon had so far caused three deaths, and one person was reported missing near Tokyo.

Police in Shizuoka city, 150km west of Tokyo, found the bodies of two men washed up near the shore early yesterday.

Katsuhisa Kai, 20, and Shintaro Minato, 21 -- both students at the University of Shizuoka -- were believed to have been swept out by rough seas while having a barbecue on the beach Saturday afternoon, a Shizuoka prefectural police spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, Japan Coast Guard officials said Noriyuki Shintani, 32, died Saturday while sailboarding in high waves off southern Okinawa island.

Tokyo resident Seiji Ikeda, 73, was missing since late Friday after he went fishing near Kozu island, about 120km south of Tokyo.

Overnight, Dianmu had passed through Okinawa's main island and stormy weather continued to disrupt dozens of flights and some ferry services in the area yesterday.

More than 75 flights in southern Japan had been canceled as well as most ferry services, public broadcaster NHK reported. The Meteorological Agency recorded waves as high as 12m in some areas.

The agency predicted up to 400mm of rain in parts of Kyushu. The typhoon was expected to head farther north in coming days.

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