09/08/2005, 00.00
JAPAN
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Typhoon Nabi moves to Hokkaido leaving more than 18 people dead and 140 wounded

At least 300,000 people have been evacuated, more than 1000 homes have crumbled and 11,400 have been flooded.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Typhoon Nabi moved overnight to the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan where nine people are missing and more than 140 are wounded. According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, at least 31 people are seriously injured. The typhoon struck Japan – the island of Kyushu – on Tuesday 6 September with lashing winds of more than 126km per hour but it diminished in force so that it reached Hokkaido with the "status" of a tropical storm between yesterday and today. According to the Meteorological Department, the storm winds are currently going at 90km per hour and 50cm of rain are as yet expected.

Public officials said more than 700 state schools had been shut down while the Hokkaido Electric Power said it had restored power to most of the 1,700 houses that suffered outages overnight.

The tropical storm has killed 18 people so far in Japan. The principal cause of death is landslides caused by flooding: this has also forced 300,000 people to evacuate, and more than 1000 houses fell to pieces while some 11,400 were flooded.

Tokyo has dispatched around 1,500 soldiers to the area to strengthen coastal defences and to help in rescue and salvage operations. Typhoon Tokage, which hit Japan in October, still claims the distinction of being the most devastating typhoon in 10 years with an official death toll of 83.

Nabi – which means butterfly in Korean – also hit the coast of South Korea where between Monday and Wednesday it flooded the southern and eastern parts of the country with 35cm of rain. The Korean National Emergency Management Unit said three people were missing while state media put the figure at five.

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