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Typhoon Melor buffets Japan, disrupts industry

TYPHOON Melor barrelled into Japan's main island today, disrupting flights and trains, closing some factories and tearing roofs off houses, but damage was much less than had been feared.

Television showed a road bridge that had collapsed in floods in Aichi, west of Tokyo, and cars half submerged in the nearby industrial city of Nagoya. Nine thousand people across the country were forced from their homes, public broadcaster NHK said.

Roofs were blown off about 50 buildings in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo, NHK said, but the main disruption in the capital was from train cancellations that stranded commuters.

The typhoon, with wind gusts of up to 198 km per hour (123 miles per hour), was about 150 (124 miles) west-northwest of Tokyo at 8 am (2300 GMT), and was headed north-northeast at 50 kph (30 mph), the Meteorological Agency said.

"I heard a bang, so I looked outside and everything was white -- the roof had fallen down," one woman told NHK.

Toyota Motor Corp said it would suspend production at 12 factories in central Japan on Thursday while Suzuki Motor Corp halted work at six car and bike plants in the area.

Refiners such as Nippon Oil Corp and Idemitsu Kosan Co halted some oil shipments but their plants kept operating.

More than 320 flights were cancelled, Kyodo news agency said, and some high speed "bullet" trains and commuter services were halted for a time. Several expressways were closed, NHK said.

The Meteorological Agency issued flood and landslide warnings for broad areas of the country, including Tokyo.

"All night we had a lot of wind and huge downpours, and some flooding was reported in some houses yesterday," said Vishal Jani, a city official in Matsuzaka, Mie prefecture, south of the storm's centre. "We were getting reports of houses shaking and shingles falling off."

But he said there were no reports of serious damage and that the skies had now cleared.


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