Japan death toll rises from Typhoon Chaba, another may be on the way
Another four people are missing since Chaba hit Japan on Monday and wrought havoc across much of the country, flooding homes, uprooting trees and causing transport chaos.
The typhoon is the third deadly storm to hit the country in two weeks. Typhoons Aere and Megi earlier raced through East Asia, causing dozens of deaths in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
By late Tuesday Chaba had weakened into a tropical depression, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
But the death toll was still rising. Police discovered the body of a 25-year-old Vietnamese seaman who had been missing off Ehime, 700 kilometres (434 miles) southwest of Tokyo since Monday.
Three other Vietnamese crew members are still missing since their freighter ran aground in the storm, a Japan Coast Guard official said.
The deaths of three other people in western and southern Japan brought the toll to 13 as of Wednesday, police said.
A 75-year-old Japanese man is still missing from Tokushima on the southern main island of Shikoku, a police spokesman said.
Chaba, which means hibiscus in Thai, flooded some 13,000 homes and cut off electricity to more than 341,700 households, mainly in the southwest. Dozens of flights were grounded and train services were disrupted by the storm.
Thousands of people left their homes and took shelter in schools amid fears of floods and mudslides.
The typhoon caused at least eight billion yen (73 million dollars) in damage to farm products in southern Japan, the agricultural ministry said. It said it was still assessing damage to rice paddies and fruit trees in central and northern Japan.
The storms have hit Japan just as farmers saw better crops emerging in hot weather after suffering serious damage from the coolest summer in a decade.
Typhoon Songda is also threatening to make landfall on Japan.
Songda lashed several islands in the Northern Marianas chain on Wednesday, sending the tiny population fleeing into Japanese World War II bunkers for shelter.
Songda battered Pagan and Agrihan islands, which have a combined population of 33 and are at the northern end of the US territory.
Despite winds of 193 kilometres (120 miles) an hour, officials said there had been no reports of injuries and the main islands of Saipan and Tinian had escaped damage.
The Northern Marianas lie some 2,400 kilometres south of Tokyo.
The Honolulu-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said Songda, named after a Vietnamese river, was headed towards the Japanese island of Okinawa and would then move north toward South Korea and southern Japan.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said Songda was expected to move west through Saturday towards waters off Taiwan and Okinawa.
"But we cannot tell in which direction it will be headed after that," said an agency official, adding that it was unclear whether Songda would directly hit Japan.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Philippines were Wednesday still mopping up from torrential rains which killed 43 people and displaced more than one million.
Some northern suburban areas of Manila as well as some northern regions remained under water.
Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/01/2004 04:48:51
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