TOKYO – A powerful typhoon pounded western Japan on Tuesday, knocking out power to more than a million households, forcing thousands to evacuate and killing at least three people.
Twenty-five crew members were missing from two cargo ships — one that sank and other that ran aground. Across the country 580 people were injured, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Packing winds of up to 89 miles per hour, Typhoon Songda (search) was centered about 106 miles off the Noto Peninsula in the Sea of Japan (search). It was expected to travel up the country's western coast and hit northern Japan by early Wednesday.
Earlier, Songda had roared across southwestern Honshu, toppling truck trailers onto their sides, bending traffic lights out of shape and blowing off roofs.
A 62-year-old man was buried in a mudslide in southern Kagoshima state. He was pulled out and taken to a hospital, but later died, said local police spokesman Masayuki Tajima.
Stormy seas sank a Cambodian-registered freighter, Blue Ocean, carrying 18 Russian crew in western Hatsukaichi harbor. Two died, while three were still missing, said a Hiroshima Coast Guard Bureau spokesman on condition of anonymity.
Officials were also searching for the 22-member crew of the Tri Ardhianto, a 6,300-ton Indonesian cargo ship, after the vessel ran aground and was flooded. The entire crew was Indonesian.
"We of course are most concerned about the fate of the crew, but the bad weather is hampering our search," said a spokesman for the 6th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters.
Three bodies were located nearby but had not yet been identified, local police said.
Songda was the record seventh typhoon to hit Japan this year — exceeding the six storms that lashed the country in 1990, the Meteorological Agency said.
Television footage showed tree branches snapping due to fierce gales and people struggling to stand up straight against the wind.
Gusts and rains have demolished 27 homes across the country, while nearly 1,500 homes were flooded, said NHK. Officials had advised 60,000 households to evacuate, Kyodo News reported.
Authorities warned residents to be on alert for landslides because the typhoon was arriving just two days after magnitude 6.9 and 7.4 earthquakes shook the western part of the country, injuring 43 people.
Aftershocks from Sunday's tremors continued in western Japan as the typhoon approached, with a 6.4-magnitude jolt striking on Tuesday morning. No injuries or damage were reported from the latest aftershock.
The Meteorological Agency warned that up to 16 inches of rain could fall on parts of Kyushu and the island of Shikoku over the next 24 hours.
In Kyushu and the island of Honshu, a total of 1.65 million households were left without power, the local electric utilities said.
A sixth-century shrine registered as a World Heritage site also suffered damage.
Strong winds toppled an elevated wooden structure at Itsukushima Shrine (search), famous for a red gate that sits in the sea at high tide, said Terumi Nishimura, a spokeswoman for the Hiroshima tourism association. Gusts also damaged the roof of a five-story pagoda at the shrine. Winds had hit 135 miles per hour, NHK said.