September 7, 2005

Typhoon fades but leaves at least 15 dead in Japan

By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO (Reuters) - Typhoon Nabi faded into a tropical storm
and headed out to sea on Wednesday after killing at least 15
people in southwestern Japan.

Eleven people were missing and 119 were injured after Nabi
drenched parts of Japan's third-biggest island with more than
1,000 mm (40 inches) of rain, triggering floods and landslides,
public broadcaster NHK said.

Four people were also missing in South Korea.

Television pictures showed rescue workers and military
personnel hunting for survivors in wrecked houses in
southwestern Japan and people clearing mud out of homes,
schools and other buildings.

Police said at least 52 homes were destroyed or badly
damaged and about 6,000 houses were flooded. Tens of thousands
of people remained in evacuation centres, NHK said.

At the height of the storm over 250,000 people fled their
homes in southwestern Japan, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

About 100,000 households in the region were without
electricity on Wednesday, NHK said.

Floodwaters in many areas were drawing back by Wednesday
morning, officials said.

"Although there are some low-lying areas that are still
flooded, a lot of the water has gone down already," said an
official in Kyushu's Miyazaki prefecture, some of whose towns
were particularly hard-hit.

Nearly 300 people spent the night on a train in the western
Japan city of Osaka after being stranded when the storm halted
rail services, Kyodo news agency said. Flights were disrupted
on Wednesday, with more than 100 canceled, NHK said, but train
services had resumed after being halted on Tuesday.

Japan's Meteorological Agency forecast that Nabi, whose
name means "butterfly" in Korean, would travel northeast over
the Sea of Japan, skimming Japan's west coast and hitting the
northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Thursday.

The agency warned of heavy rains, high winds and possible
flooding and landslides across northern Japan.

Oil refiners, meanwhile, were restoring operations after
disruption from the storm.

Top refiner Nippon Oil Corp said it had resumed oil
shipments by road and sea to its Marifu refinery on the
southern tip of the main island of Honshu, and Kyushu Oil Co.
said it had restarted shipments and its refinery in Oita,
Kyushu, would return to normal operations later on Wednesday.

In South Korea, which escaped the brunt of the typhoon,
four people were reported missing and several hundred were
evacuated after heavy rains and winds battered the southern and
eastern parts of the country.

The storm dumped about 620 mm (24 inches) of rain in the
southeastern industrial city of Ulsan, causing landslides
across roads and railway tracks and snarling transport.

About 150 people in Ulsan remained in shelters, waiting for
the water to recede. Four thousand households were without

The country's two main airlines -- Korean Air and Asiana --
canceled over 100 flights.

(Additional reporting by Teruaki Ueno and Jiwon Chung in
Tokyo, and Kim Yoo-chul in Seoul)