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Typhoon sideswipes Tokyo, at least 17 dead via Reuters

(Reuters) – A typhoon killed 17 people in Japan on Wednesday, most on an offshore island, but largely spared the capital and caused no new disaster as it brushed by the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station, the plant’s operator said.

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The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Corp, canceled all offshore work and secured machinery as the storm approached.

RAIN PUMPED OUT

The operator, known as Tepco, has been struggling to contain radioactive leaks since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused extensive damage and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

A Tepco spokesman said Typhoon Wipha had caused no new problems at the plant, which is on the coast 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo.

The storm dumped heavy rain and it had to be pumped out of protective containers at the base of about 1,000 tanks storing radioactive water, the by-product of a jerry-rigged cooling system designed to control wrecked reactors.

The rainwater was checked for radioactivity and released into the sea, the company spokesman said.

Wipha was down-graded to a tropical depression by 0700 GMT. It was off the coast of northeastern Japan and moving northeast at 95 kph (59 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

At its height, it had sustained winds at its centre of 126 kph (78 mph) and gusts of up to 180 kph (112 mph).

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