World

Typhoon-ravaged Japan also hit by earthquake

A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on Wednesday just hours after Typhoon Roke buffeted Tokyo with strong winds and rain, resulting in the deaths of at least six people.

Roke leaves 13 dead or missing, Tropical Storms Hilary and Ophelia strengthen

A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on Wednesday just hours after Typhoon Roke buffeted Tokyo with strong winds and rain, resulting in at least 13 people dead or missing.

The earthquake struck northeastern Japan just south of Fukushima, where an earthquake and tsunami crippled a complex of nuclear plants in March, according to ABC News.

Whether anyone was injured and the extent of the damage weren't immediately known.

The powerful typhoon made landfall in the main island of Japan, forcing the evacuation of more than a million people.

Authorities called for more than a million people in central Japan to be evacuated in central and eastern Japan.

The City of Nagoya temporarily called off an evacuation warning for 880,000 people when swelling in a major river subsided, but officials said the warning could be reissued if conditions warranted.

Police and local media reported 13 people dead or missing, many of them believed swept away by rivers swollen with rains.

More than 200,000 households were without electricity late Wednesday.

The storm, packing sustained winds of up to 144 km/h, made landfall in the afternoon near the city of Hamamatsu, about 200 kilometres west of Tokyo.

The centre of the fast-moving storm passed just north of the capital early Wednesday evening, and headed toward the northeastern region of Tohoku devastated by the March 11 tsunami and earthquake.

The typhoon grazed the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, where engineers are still struggling with small radiation leaks due to tsunami damage. They expressed relief that Typhoon Roke's driving winds and rains caused no immediate problems there other than a broken security camera.

"The worst seems to be over," said Takeo Iwamoto, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., after the storm passed just west of the plant and then headed north.

But the typhoon brought new misery to the northeastern region already slammed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, dumping up 42 centimeters of rain in some areas.

High risk of mudslides

Authorities warned of a high risk of mudslides in that region. Hundreds of tsunami survivors in government shelters in the Miyagi state town of Onagawa were forced to evacuate for fear of flooding.

With commuter trains in the capital of Tokyo suspended, tens of thousands of commuters trying to rush home were stuck at stations across the sprawling city. Fire department officials reported three people were injured. In the trendy shopping district of Shibuya, winds knocked over a tree onto a sidewalk, but no one was hurt.

Television footage showed pedestrians struggling to walk straight in powerful winds that made umbrellas useless.

Damaged cars are seen at a factory close to the Shonai river in Nagoya, central Japan, after the area was flooded due to the approaching typhoon. ((Toru Hanai/Reuters))

Heavy rains caused floods and road damage in dozens of locations in Nagoya and several other cities, the Aichi prefectural government said. Parts of Japan's central city of Nagoya, about 270 kilometres west of Tokyo, were flooded near swollen rivers where rescue workers helped residents evacuate in rubber boats.

Police in Gifu prefecture said a nine-year-old boy and an 84-year-old man were missing after apparently falling into swollen rivers.

More than 200 domestic flights were cancelled and some bullet train services were suspended.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's No. 1 automaker, which is headquartered in Toyota city in Aichi, was shutting plants as a precaution. Machinery maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries told workers to stay home at its five plants and an office in the Nagoya area, company spokesman Hideo Ikuno said.

Nissan Motor Co. spokesman Chris Keeffe said workers at its Yokohama headquarters and nearby technical facilities were being told to go home early for safety reasons, and two plants were not operating.

Tropical Storms Hilary, Ophelia threaten

Also on Wednesday, Tropical Storm Hilary has formed in the eastern Pacific south of Mexico, and Tropical Storm Ophelia is strengthening as it moves across the Atlantic.

Hilary had maximum sustained winds near 65 km/h.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hilary could become a hurricane in a couple days. It was centred about 245 kilometres south of Puerto Escondido, Mexico, and moving west-northwest near 7 km/h.

Ophelia's maximum sustained winds increased to near 95 km/h. But the hurricane centre said some weakening is expected during the next two days.

Ophelia was centred about 2,005 kilometres east of the Leeward Islands and moving west near 26 km/h.