No. of damaged buildings from tornado rises in Japan

MITO, Japan - Severe winds damaged 212 buildings Sunday over an area stretching from Chikusei to Sakuragawa, both in Ibaraki Prefecture, according to local governments and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The 20-kilometer-long area runs almost parallel to two other areas devastated by Sunday's tornadoes: one from Joso to Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture; and the other from Mooka to Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture.

As such, the agency believes the tornadoes and severe winds occurred at several locations at the same time when a north-south front moved from the west to the east and created cumulonimbus clouds.

The Mito Local Meteorological Observatory has dispatched officials to Chikusei and Sakuragawa to determine whether the severe winds were tornadoes.

The municipal governments in both areas said the strong wind blew toward the northeast from the western part of Chikusei through Sakuragawa.

It injured three people and damaged 212 buildings.

In Chikusei, 88 houses and 79 other buildings had roof tiles blown off or windows broken.

Glass fragments hit the brow of a 55-year-old man, injuring him while he was inside his home.

The wind destroyed 80 greenhouses worth a total of 33 million yen (S$515, 869), causing about 6 million yen in damage to watermelon crops and other produce inside.

In Sakuragawa, glass fragments hit the right leg of a 34-year-old man, injuring him, while a 72-year-old man injured his head and hip after being blown off a roof while trying to repair it.

Forty-five buildings in the city either had their roof tiles blown off or were damaged by falling trees.

In Hitachi-Omiya in the prefecture, a strong windstorm was observed at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday at a district bordering Tochigi Prefecture, causing damage to houses on a 300-meter-long stretch from south to north.

A 70-year-old woman was slightly injured by glass fragments that struck her arm.

The winds also damaged 16 houses, and 25 storehouses and other buildings were partially or completely destroyed, the municipal government said.

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