Tokyo (AFP) Aug 12, 2009
Disaster-hit Japan pushed on with recovery efforts Wednesday, a day after a strong earthquake struck and three days after a typhoon brought flashfloods and landslides that killed at least 15 people.
In the flood-hit western town of Sayo, 400 rescue workers and troops searched debris-strewn river banks for survivors or victims of inundations brought by Typhoon Etau that have left 17 people missing nationwide.
In coastal regions near Tokyo, where a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck early Tuesday, hospitals were still treating some of the 120 people injured in the tremor, while officials confirmed one death caused by the quake.
A 43-year-old woman found dead after being buried under a pile of books in the city of Shizuoka, west of the capital, was confirmed to have died as a result of the quake, a city official said.
Construction crews were meanwhile scrambling to repair a section of the Tomei Expressway, the main road artery linking Tokyo with the western city of Osaka, that was damaged in a landslide triggered by the quake.
"We are trying to resume operations as quickly as possible, but we found further damage and are carefully conducting the repair work," said Susumu Takahashi, a spokesman for Central Nippon Expressway Corp.
Government inspectors were also conducting safety checks on the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which automatically shut down two reactors when the quake hit offshore 170 kilometres (105 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The tremor caused 24 minor impacts on the plant, such as cracked building walls, but caused no radioactive leak, said a company official.
"An inspection team from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has entered the plant and started examining the safety conditions," said a spokesman for the operator Chubu Electric Power Co.
The quake also caused some damage to 3,300 buildings in the worst hit prefecture of Shizuoka and nearby areas, also toppling the stone wall of an ancient castle and damaging the tiled roof of a temple.
Tokyo was sunny again after Typhoon Etau veered off into the Pacific Ocean after threatening to hit the capital, but elsewhere rescue workers were still digging through the rubble brought by its torrential rain storms.
In Tokushima on the southwestern island of Shikoku, police found the body of a nine-year-old boy who had been missing since the weekend.
In the worst-hit town of Sayo in western Hyogo prefecture, where 12 deaths were reported after a rain-swollen river burst its banks and ripped away three bridges, rescue workers were searching for victims.
The coastguard also deployed three patrol boats in waters near the mouth of the river to search for those still missing, a local official said.
"We can't comment on their chances of survival," he said.
Earlier in the week, a 68-year-old woman was found dead in a landslide in Okayama prefecture, and the body of a 22-year-old woman was found in a flood-hit town in Nagano prefecture.
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