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Typhoon Dianmu hits land in Japan, three dead

Typhoon Dianmu hits land in Japan, three dead
TOKYO - Powerful typhoon Dianmu hit land in western Japan this week, lashing a wide area with strong winds and heavy rains after leaving three people dead at the weekend.

Transport was snarled, tens of thousands of households lost power and several oil refineries halted shipments.

Two university students were found dead on Sunday after being swept off a beach by high waves, and another man died while windsurfing on Saturday just off the southern island of Okinawa. Two people were missing.

Dianmu, which means \"Mother of Lightning\" in Chinese, hit land at Cape Muroto on Shikoku island, about 500 km (310 miles) west of Tokyo, at around 0040 GMT, according to Japan\'s meteorological agency.

Television footage showed huge waves overwhelming breakwaters at Muroto, but no major flooding or damage was reported.

The storm was moving north-northeast at a speed of 50 km per hour (31 miles per hour), with winds averaging 126 kph (78 mph). The meteorological agency said it was expected to cross western Japan and head out to the Sea of Japan later this week.

Gusts of up to 180 kph (112 mph) were recorded in Shikoku early this week, the meteorological agency said.

At least 137 flights, including several to international destinations, were grounded at airports in southern and central Japan, Kyodo news agency reported.

Train and ferry services across a broad swathe of western Japan were cancelled, including some Shinkansen \"bullet train\" services, and a number of schools closed.

Some 27,000 households were without electricity, Kyodo said. Around 120 families voluntarily evacuated their homes and took refuge in public facilities such as schools and community halls, public broadcaster NHK television said.

At least eight refineries had halted crude oil unloading and product shipment by sea, including Nippon Oil Corp\'s (5001: Quote, Profile, Research) 340,000 bpd Negishi refinery near Tokyo.

Up to 300 millimetres (12 inches) of rain is expected to fall in western and central Japan in the 24 hours to 0300 GMT yesterday.

The Meteorological Agency\'s Internet homepage became a peripheral victim of the storm due to a sudden surge in hits as Dianmu moved north, with access becoming difficult or failing altogether, Kyodo said. It said the agency was rushing to increase the capacity of its server.

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