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Typhoon Kills Five in Southern Japan

A powerful typhoon plowed into southern Japan on Monday, killing at least five people and injuring 73. Torrential rains and strong winds toppled trees and telephone poles and shoved a Vietnamese cargo ship aground.

Typhoon Chaba (search), one of the year's strongest storms, churned north packing sustained winds of 79 miles per hour, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. So far, 123 homes across southern Japan were flooded, the National Police Agency said.

In addition, 176,500 households were without power throughout Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu (search), about 560 miles southwest of Tokyo, said Shoichi Ogata, a spokesman for Kyushu Electric.

A 71-year-old man trying to fix a storage roof died after he was blown to the ground by strong winds, said an official with the Miyazaki prefecture (search) police. An 82-year-old man attempting to saw a branch off a tree died when a gust of wind whisked him off his ladder, the police said.

A 51-year-old woman in Kagawa also died as she tried to fix her roof while two more people were found drowned in a Kagoshima river. Police have not yet identified the dead.

The National Police Agency said 73 other people were injured, including two civil servants hurt when winds shattered office windows at Naze city hall on Amami Oshima island. Two people were missing.

Television pictures showed fishing boats turned on their sides as huge waves crashed into embankments and rice paddies that were partially submerged.

A Vietnamese cargo ship called for help after running aground near Uwajima in Ehime, the local coast guard said in a statement. The 5,552-ton Vihan05 was carrying a crew of 20, all Vietnamese, the coast guard said.

Four crew members had been swept into the sea, coast guard officials were notified later Monday.

Waves 33 feet high and 45-mph winds were recorded in the area where the vessel was stranded.

The Meteorological Agency warned the danger of landslides in parts of Kyushu was at its highest in several years. Public broadcaster NHK reported 17,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

Airlines were forced to cancel more than 730 domestic flights Monday, affecting more than 60,000 people, the Kyodo News Agency reported. Earlier it said that four international flights from Fukuoka to Shanghai and Hong Kong also had to be canceled.

Railways also had to cancel and delay trains.

The Meteorological Agency warned of dangerous waves and the highest tides of the year along the Pacific and Sea of Japan coastlines.

Heavy rains were forecast across a wide swath of southern and western Japan, with as much as 28 inches of rain expected in Kyushu and Shikoku islands over the next 24 hours as Chaba moved north up Japan's western coast. Chaba means hibiscus in Thai.