Flood warnings issued as typhoon nears Tokyo
TOKYO (Reuters) - A typhoon was approaching Tokyo on Thursday, forcing train and ferry cancellations and sparking fears of flooding, landslides and high winds in and around the Japanese capital.
Typhoon Fitow, whose name means "beautiful fragrant flower" in a Micronesian language, was about 140 km (90 miles) west of Hachijojima, a tiny island 300 km (186 miles) south of Tokyo as of 1 p.m. (12 a.m. EDT).
Television pictures showed huge waves crashing on the shores of the island. The storm was moving north at 20 km (12 miles) an hour, Japan's Meteorological Agency said, bringing with it winds gusting up to 180 km (110 miles) an hour.
The agency warned of possible flooding across a wide area, including western Tokyo. Landslides caused by heavy rainfall in Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo, destroyed several buildings, public broadcaster NHK said, but there were no reports of injuries.
All ferries from Tokyo to southern islands were cancelled, the broadcaster said, while some trains in areas around the capital were also cancelled.
British-based Web site Tropical Storm Risk (www.tropicalstormrisk.com) said Fitow was currently a category 1 typhoon, the weakest on a scale of 5, but forecast it would strengthen before making landfall near the capital early on Friday.
Fitow is then expected to veer northeast, potentially causing havoc across northern Japan as it fades into a tropical storm.
In July, a powerful typhoon killed three people and injured more than 70 after it hit the southern Japan island of Kyushu and moved along the country's eastern coastline.