22 killed, nine missing in Japan, S.Korea as tropical storm heads north

Rescuers in Japan and South Korea searching for nine people missing after a powerful tropical storm swept over the region, causing heavy flooding and mudslides that killed 22 people.

Twenty-one people died in Japan and six remained missing, most on the southern island of Kyushu, the country's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Another 33 people were seriously injured and 116 sustained light injuries, it said.

In South Korea, a man was found dead after being swept away in flood waters on Ulleung Island, off the country's east coast, while three people were missing and three others were injured, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

Typhoon Nabi, which means butterfly in the Korean language, began lashing southern Japan on Tuesday, but was downgraded to a tropical storm before exiting to the Okhotsk Sea via the northern Island of Hokkaido early Friday.

The storm dumped more than 130 centimeters (51 inches) of rain on parts of Kyushu over three days, almost three times its total annual precipitation.

More than 2,000 houses in southern and western Japan were either completely destroyed or damaged, and about 17,000 houses across Japan were flooded, the agency said.

Agricultural crops also took a hit with damage totaling at least 4.08 billion yen (US$36.9 million; Ђ29.8 million) in Kyushu, according to figures released by four prefectures (states).

Last year, a record 10 typhoons and tropical storms struck Japan, leaving nearly 220 people dead or missing the largest casualty toll since 1983. South Korea is typically hit by one or two storms a year, reports the AP.

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