Japan hammered by winds up to 107 mph

TOKYO – Gale-force winds pounded eastern Japan early today, knocking out power to homes, stirring coastal waves that caused a tanker ship to run aground and injuring at least 13 people.

Tokyo and surrounding cities were hit with gusts reaching 107 mph in Chiba prefecture (state), just east of the capital, according to the Meteorological Agency. Winds dislodged roof tiles, collapsed construction scaffolding and blew debris that broke windows and punched holes into buildings.

“The winds were as strong or stronger than a typhoon,” agency official Kunihiko Yamanishi said.

An area of low pressure over the main island of Honshu caused the winds and was expected to do the same on the northermost main island of Hokkaido, he said.

Temperatures in Tokyo were forecast to rise above 77 degrees today – the highest on record for December, the agency said.

Police said 13 people suffered mostly minor injuries. One woman in her 70s dislocated her shoulder after being swept off her feet by a gust in Tateyama city, said a Chiba prefectural police official.

At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, at least 50 flights were canceled early today and dozens of other flights were delayed. High-speed “bullet” train services in the Tokyo metropolitan area were temporarily suspended, and local train lines were halted by fallen trees and landslides, officials said.

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