Japan typhoon tolls hits 17, set to rise: Media

Japan typhoon tolls hits 17, set to rise: Media

TOKYO - At least 17 people died as a powerful typhoon lashed Japan's Pacific coast Wednesday, media reports said, with the death toll likely to rise.

Typhoon Wipha, dubbed the strongest in a decade, caused landslides that buried houses as it churned past an island just south of Tokyo.

Public broadcaster NHK and Jiji Press reported at least 16 people had died and 51 were unaccounted for on Oshima, after houses were destroyed or swept away by a series of landslides and floods on the island, 120 kilometres south of the Japanese capital.

"We've confirmed that 13 people have died, and the number is likely to increase later," a police official in Oshima earlier told AFP.

A woman was confirmed dead in western Tokyo after her body was recovered from a river.

Many of the bodies of those who died on Oshima were found in houses that had been splintered by huge volumes of earth sent crashing down mountainsides by torrential rains and strong winds.

Footage from the island showed ruined wooden houses half buried in mud. Mangled trees and other debris were piled up around them.

The storm dumped more than 12 centimetres (5 inches) of rain on Oshima in an hour, according to the meteorological agency.

Many local residents had sought shelter in evacuation centres, reporting dirty water had been gushing into their homes, according to local media.

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