Typhoon cuts deadly path, sinks two ships

Powerful Typhoon Songda left at least eight people dead, 21 missing and 385 injured as it hit Kyushu and many other parts of western Japan on Tuesday.

At least 20,000 people were evacuated as the typhoon became the seventh to land on the Japanese archipelago this year, a record for one calendar year, the Meteorological Agency said. The previous record was six, marked both in 1990 and 1993.

The typhoon landed near Nagasaki around 9:30 a.m., the agency said.

As of 6 p.m., the typhoon was located 80 km north-northeast of Saigo, Shimane Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, moving northeastward at 70 kph, according to the agency.

Songda, named after a river in Vietnam, wrought havoc with transport and power lines. Ships capsized in separate incidents due to strong winds and high waves.

An Indonesian freighter with 22 crew members ran aground and was about to sink in the stormy Seto Inland Sea off Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Tuesday morning, the Japan Coast Guard said.

A crewman aboard the 6,315-ton Tri Ardhiant told the Japan Coast Guard’s Fukuoka office around 10:10 a.m. that all crewmen were abandoning ship.

The coast guard’s Tokuyama office in the prefecture tried in vain to locate the stranded ship or make radio contact. Shortly before noon, an unmanned lifeboat was found on the shore of Kasado Island off Kudamatsu. Three bodies — believed to be crew members — were later retrieved on the island’s shores.

In the afternoon, officials spotted what appeared to be the bow of the ship protruding from the sea off the island.

The freighter departed from Yokohama on Saturday and was on its way to Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, coast guard officials said.

A Cambodia-registered lumber freighter with a Russian crew of 18 capsized and sank after docking at a port in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on Tuesday, Hiroshima Prefectural Police said.

The Blue Ocean had sent a distress signal, but was found capsized when local Japan Coast Guard officials arrived at the scene.

Two bodies, believed to be those of crew members, were found nearby, while two others were still unaccounted for, the officials said. Fourteen of the crew members have been rescued but one of them is in serious condition, they added.

The ship had docked around 6 a.m., carrying lumber from the Russian port of Nakhodka.

In Ehime Prefecture, a Japanese cement carrier ran aground on Futagami Island off the town of Nakajima. The nine-member crew of the Chihaya Maru were all reported safe, local coast guard officials said.

A 62-year-old man in Kagoshima Prefecture was found dead after he was buried in a landslide in the town of Togo as he was trying to clear away trees knocked down by the winds.

In Yamaguchi Prefecture, an 80-year-old man in the town of Mito died at a hospital after being found collapsed by his home. Police believe he was knocked down by the winds and struck his head.

In the city of Hiroshima, Joji Nishimura, 71, died in an accident while he was trying to fix an outer wall at his typhoon-damaged home.

Songda, the season’s 18th typhoon, also damaged important landmarks in Hiroshima Prefecture.

A structure at Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site and a national treasure, collapsed due to strong winds, while part of the roof of the main shrine building was damaged.

Strong winds also knocked down a Chinese parasol tree at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park that was famous for having survived the 1945 atomic bombing.

The weather observatory in Hiroshima said that a maximum wind velocity of 216.7 kph was registered in the city at 2:20 p.m.

Injuries were reported across western Japan, including Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures.

The Ground Self-Defense Force dispatched 11 water supply trucks to Saito, Miyazaki Prefecture, in response to a disaster relief request by Gov. Tadahiro Ando.

Electricity was out to about 448,800 homes in seven prefectures in western Japan as of 1 p.m., according to Chugoku Electric Power Co.

Airlines canceled 423 domestic and international flights to and from airports in Kyushu, Shikoku and the Chugoku region due to the typhoon, affecting some 42,000 travelers.

Ferry and train services connecting Kyushu and other parts of Japan were also disrupted by the storm.

The agency said another typhoon, Sarika, was also heading toward Japan. Generating winds of up to 108 kph near its center, it was located some 270 km east-northeast of Okinotori Island at 9 a.m. Tuesday and moving north at 20 kph.