TOKYO: A once-in-a-decade typhoon threatened Japan yesterday, disrupting travel and shipping and forcing precautions to be taken at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Wipha was moving across the Pacific straight towards capital Tokyo, and is expected to make landfall during the morning rush hour today, bringing hurricane-force winds to the metropolitan area of 30 million people.
The centre of the storm was 860km southwest of Tokyo at 8am, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its website. It was moving north-northeast at 35kmph.
The storm had weakened as it headed north over the sea but was still packing sustained winds of about 140kmph with gusts as high as 194kmph, the agency said.
The agency issued warnings for Tokyo of heavy rain, flooding and gales, and advised people to be prepared to leave their homes quickly and to avoid unnecessary travel.
A spokesman for the meteorological agency said the storm was a “once in a decade event”.
The typhoon is expected to sweep through northern Japan after making landfall and to pass near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, on the coast 220km northeast of Tokyo, later today. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Corp , which has been struggling to contain radioactive leaks, said it would cancel all offshore work and it would decide whether to continue work onshore after assessing the weather.
The utility will also take down cranes and secure all cables, hoses and machinery, a company spokesman said.
Tokyo Electric said it would pump out the rainwater expected to fall into protective containers at the base of some 1,000 tanks storing radioactive water.
The radioactive water is a by-product of its jerry-rigged cooling system. Reuters