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One dead as typhoon sideswipes Japan
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 20, 2011

Waves sweep toward the shore in Tokushima in Japan's western island of Shikoku on July 19, 2011 brought by Typhoon Ma-On packing gusts of up to 198 kilometres (120 miles) per hour. Japan braced for heavy rain and fierce wind as strong typhoon Ma-On churned towards the country, prompting workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to take safety measures. Photo courtesy AFP.

Typhoon Ma-On swerved away from Japan's Pacific coast Wednesday, leaving one person dead and dozens of others injured and damaging a centuries-old castle in Kyoto, officials and reports said.

The storm system, packing winds of up to 108 kilometres (68 miles) per hour, was located 140 kilometres (88 miles) offshore late Wednesday, slowly heading east and further from the main island of Honshu.

The Japan Meteorogical Agency said Ma-On was still expected to bring downpours overnight in the country's eastern and northern regions including coastal areas hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which sparked a crisis at a nuclear power plant in the area.

The drowned body of an 84-year-old man was found on the bank of a river on Shikoku Island Wednesday after he went missing a day earlier while checking his boat, local police said.

The eye of Ma-On, which spanned 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles), made landfall on Shikoku in southwestern Japan late Tuesday, bringing up to 120 centimetres (48 inches) of rain since Sunday, the weather agency said.

It also sideswiped a peninsula south of Osaka later as it moved at 15 kilometres per hour.

A total of 60 were injured in 18 of the country's 47 prefectures and more than 100 flights were cancelled, the public broadcaster NHK reported.

In the ancient capital of Kyoto, a treasured white plastered wall at the 385-year-old Nijo Castle peeled off after it was exposed to rain and wind from the typhoon, the city office said.

The castle is designated by the UN agency UNESCO as one of World Heritage sites.

The weather agency warned that the tsunami-hit northeast coastal area would see rainfall of up to 50 millimetres per hour overnight, urging the region to brace for possible landslides and floods.

N. Korea says downpours hit mining, power supplies
Seoul (AFP) July 20, 2011 - Heavy rain which pounded North Korea last week seriously damaged coal mines, power production and railway lines, the state news agency said Wednesday, in its second such report in three days.

The downpours from July 12 to 15 flooded dozens of pits in the west and washed away hundreds of thousands of tons of stored coal, the agency said.

Bridges were destroyed and railways wrecked by landslides in Sunchon, Tokchon and Pukchang, while production has halted at mines in the Hamnam and Chonnae complexes since there is no power to pump out floodwater, it added.

The agency said Sunday that floods triggered by the torrential rain had washed away homes, roads and farmland and caused unspecified casualties.

It said more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of farmland was destroyed or submerged nationwide.

Earlier this month, state media said a tropical storm that hit the country in June had caused casualties and left more than 150 homes and farmland destroyed or submerged.

After decades of deforestation to create arable land or provide firewood, the impoverished North is particularly vulnerable to flooding. In 2007 it reported at least 600 dead or missing from devastating floods.

State media appeared to be giving particular prominence to this summer's weather damage. Earlier this year, the North appealed to the United States and other countries for food aid but Washington has not yet announced its decision.

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Hurricane Dora strengthens off Mexican coast
Mexico City (AFP) July 20, 2011 - Hurricane Dora intensified Wednesday as it brushed southern Mexico, pounding resort coastlines with dangerous surf and bringing heavy rains and wind likely to last through the weekend, officials said.

Dora, about 360 kilometers (225 miles) southwest of the resort city of Acapulco, was packing sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour and was expected to strengthen further, possibly becoming a major hurricane by Thursday, Mexican and US weather services said.

The storm -- the fourth hurricane of the 2011 Pacific season -- was churning along to the northwest at 30 kilometers (18 miles) per hour and in coming days will track parallel to the Mexican coast, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Some NHC forecast models put the hurricane on track to affect the Baja California resort of Cabo San Lucas later in the week.

Mexico's National Weather Service issued tropical storm watches for the southern coast, warned that large waves and heavy rain were pounding the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, and advised vessels in the vicinity to take precautions against high seas and heavy winds.

"Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Dora could become a major hurricane by Thursday," the NHC said in a bulletin.

The 2011 season's first named storm, Arlene, left at least 16 people dead in Mexico after it drenched much of the country with heavy rains and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Mexico was struck last year by what the government described as the wettest rainy season on record.

Tropical storms and hurricanes caused flooding and mudslides that killed 125 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and caused damage of more than $4 billion.

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Japan braces for strong typhoon Ma-On
Tokyo (AFP) July 19, 2011
Japan braced for heavy rain and fierce wind as strong typhoon Ma-On churned towards the country on Tuesday, prompting workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to take safety measures. Ma-On, packing gusts of up to 198 kilometres (120 miles) per hour, will make landfall over southwestern Shikoku on Tuesday night and move up the main Honshu island that includes Tokyo through Wed ... read more

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