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UPDATED: 09:32, September 08, 2004
10 die, 21 missing, 628 hurt as typhoon pounds western Japan
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At least 10 people were killed and 628 others injured as Typhoon Songda hit the Kyushu region Tuesday, pounding southwestern and western Japan with torrential rain and powerful winds. Twenty-one sailors are missing.

Songda caused blackouts and paralyzed public transportation as it swept across the Kyushu, Chugoku and Shikoku regions. More than 20,000 people evacuated from their homes in affected areas.

Songda is the seventh typhoon to land on the Japanese archipelago this year, breaking the record of six typhoons to do so in a single season.

At 3 a.m. Wednesday, the season's 18th typhoon was located about 110 kilometers west of Hakodate in Hokkaido and heading northeast at 75 km per hour, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It had an atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals and winds of up to 108 kph near its center.

The 21 sailors went missing after an Indonesian freighter ran aground in the Seto Inland Sea off Yamaguchi Prefecture on Tuesday morning. Three bodies found nearby are believed to be among the 22 missing.

Two Russian sailors from a Cambodian-registered timber freighter were also killed, and two others are missing. The freighter, carrying 18 crew members, sank after docking at a port in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture.

Injuries were reported mostly in the Kyushu, Chugoku and Kinki regions due mainly to strong winds.

Throughout the Kinki and Chugoku regions, 1.8 million households were temporarily deprived of electricity.

Strong wind also destroyed a structure at Hiroshima Prefecture's Miyajima Shrine, a World Heritage site.

Up to 200 millimeters of rain is expected for Hokkaido and up to 150 mm for the Kinki, Tokai and Koshin regions by 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Airlines canceled 750 domestic flights to and from airports in the Kyushu, Chugoku, Shikoku and other areas due to the typhoon, affecting some 86,000 travelers. They also canceled more than 30 international flights, affecting about 4,600 travelers.

Ferry and train services connecting Kyushu and other areas of Japan were also disrupted by the typhoon.

Train services in western Japan, mainly in the Kinki region, were delayed.

West Japan Railway Co. suspended bullet train service on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line but resumed some of its runs, including those between Hakata and Ogura.

Kyushu Railway Co. suspended all its train runs, partially resuming its service within Kagoshima Prefecture. The suspension affected about 600,000 passengers.

The Sanyo and Chugoku expressways were closed.

The agency said Typhoon Sarika, the season's 19th, was also heading toward Japan. Generating winds of up to 64.8 kph near its center, it was located some 390 km north-northeast of Japan's southernmost Okinotori Island at 9 p.m. Tuesday and was moving north at 15 kph.

Songda follows close behind Typhoon Chaba, which battered the region last week, killing at least 13 people, and Megi, which killed at least 10.

Source: Kyodo News

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