Japan thrashed by major typhoon

Typhoon Tokage lashed western Japan Wednesday, leaving two dead and at least five missing, causing landslides and the evacuation of thousands.

Fifteen injuries were reported, the Mainichi Shimbun said Wednesday evening.

&to=http://english.pravda.ru/region/2002/07/17/32633.html' target=_blank>The typhoon, Japan's 10th this year and second within two weeks, first struck Shikoku island, some 420 miles west of Tokyo. The Meteorological Agency said the storm was likely to hit the main island of Honshu and warned of heavy rain, strong winds, high waves and high tides over a widespread area from western to eastern Japan. It was expected to pass near Tokyo late Wednesday, reports The Washington Times.

According to Bloomberg, with maximum winds of 144 kilometers (89 miles) an hour, Tokage - Japanese for "lizard" - is the season's 27th typhoon and the biggest to hit Japan in more than a decade, the weather agency said. At least 500 millimeters (19.7 inches) of rain fell in parts of southwestern Japan since Monday, it said.

At least seven people are missing and 50 people are injured in Kyushu and Shikoku, Kyodo reported. More than 4,000 people evacuated their homes, NHK Television reported. In Chiba, east of Tokyo, two men working on a breakwater were swept away by waves, NHK said.

Tokage, moving northward at 50 kilometers an hour, and may reach the Tokyo area tonight, said Fusako Hasegawa, a spokeswoman for the weather agency. NHK reported the center of the storm will pass over Tokyo sometime between midnight and 6 a.m.

The nine previous typhoons that have hit Japan this year caused a total of 102 deaths and left 13 missing and presumed dead.

Typhoon Ma-on slammed into the Tokyo metropolitan area on October 9, killing six people and paralyzing the capital's transport systems.

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