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Japan threatened by tenth typhoon


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Tenth typhoon threatens Japan


Tuesday, October 19, 2004 Posted: 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)



TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- Typhoon Tokage is inching slowly towards Japan Tuesday, lashing the Okinawa islands with heavy rain and high winds as it headed north, threatening the country's main islands with the second typhoon in less than two weeks.


Packing winds of up to 144 kilometers (90 miles) an hour at its center, Tokage -- which means "lizard" in Japanese -- was expected to hit southern Japan on Wednesday, making it a record 10th typhoon to make landfall in Japan this year.


Television pictures showed rain pounding empty streets in Okinawa as palm trees bent in the wind.


Most schools were closed, NHK national television said, and around 100 flights had been cancelled.


Some ferry services were also suspended.


As of 7.00 a.m. (2200 GMT), the storm was located about 220 km (137 miles) south southwest of Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture, some 1,600 km southwest of Tokyo.


It was moving north northeast at 15 km an hour.


Around 300 mm (12 inches) of rain was forecast to fall in some parts of western Japan by 6.00 a.m. on Wednesday (2100 GMT on Tuesday).


Storms and floods have killed at least 78 people in Japan this year and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.


The latest, Ma-on, pummelled Tokyo and killed six people across the nation earlier this month.


Experts say Japan has suffered from an unusual number of storms this year due to warmer offshore waters and weaker than normal Pacific high pressure areas.



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