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Japan twister kills nine

JAPAN'S deadliest tornado on record tore through a remote northern town yesterday, killing nine and leaving one woman unconscious, police said. About two dozen people were injured.

The tornado knocked out electricity to hundreds of homes and flipped over cars in the town of Saroma, on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Local television showed a scene of devastation, with a wide swath of collapsed buildings, badly damaged cars and utility poles strewn across streets. Many of the victims were construction workers building a tunnel near the town, officials said.

Tornados are relatively rare in Japan.

According to the Central Meteorological Agency, the worst tornado previously recorded in Japan was just two months ago, when three people were killed on the southern island of Kyushu. The agency only has records of tornado-related deaths going back to 1961.

The agency said it was studying data to determine the strength and cause of the twister. Local television networks estimated that, judging from the damage, it was one of the strongest to hit Japan since World War II, with wind speeds of 70 meters per second.

National broadcaster NHK quoted a local woman, Keiko Takeda, as saying that the skies suddenly darkened over the town and when she opened her window winds were swirling outside.


 

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