Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Typhoon Usagi injures 18, forces thousands to flee

AFP , TOKYO

A typhoon was churning off the Japanese coast yesterday 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, where it was weakening.

TV 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 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 Miyazaki Prefecture.

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 3m from the roof of his house.

Municipal governments advised tens of thousands of people to evacuate in thes face of gusts and downpour.

The typhoon triggered 19 landslides on Kyushu.

The typhoon weakened somewhat yesterday and was moving northeast in the Sea of Japan at 30kph.

As hot air was being sucked into the storm system, temperatures were rising in many places.

Packing winds of up to 72kph, the typhoon was on course to reach the tip of Hokkaido this afternoon. But it is forecast to dissipate into a moderate depression.

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