Typhoon Bears Down on Northeastern Japan

Typhoon Roke is on course to hit northeastern Japan after making landfall in the center of the country Wednesday, threatening to add to the destruction caused by the natural disasters that struck the region in March.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency says Roke made landfall in the central city of Hamamatsu on the main island of Honshu, carrying maximum winds of 216 kilometers an hour.  The storm has left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, commuter and bullet train services have been suspended, and hundreds of domestic flights have been canceled.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is in the projected path of the storm.  A spokesman for the plant’s operator said all efforts have been made to keep rainfall out of the facility and prevent radioactive water from spilling out of the damaged reactors.

Typhoon Roke triggered heavy rains and flooding in parts of central Japan ahead of its official landfall.  Television footage showed residents in the city of Nagoya being taken to safety on boats pulled by rescue workers.   At least four people have been killed and at least two others are missing.

Authorities issued an evacuation advisory for about 1 million people in the central city of Nagoya ahead of Roke’s arrival, warning that nearby rivers might overflow their banks and flood the area.

Evacuation orders or advisories remain in force for more than 330,000 people across western and central Japan.

Western Japan is still recovering from the aftermath of Typhoon Talas, which left at least 80 people dead or missing earlier this month. The storm swept away roads and downed telephone and power lines, leaving more than 4,000 people isolated.