Friday, 11 July 2014 | MYT 9:13 PM
Downgraded typhoon brushes past Fukushima on way out to sea
TOKYO, July 11, 2014 (AFP) - Tropical storm Neoguri skirted past the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Japan's east coast Friday and blew out to sea, leaving behind a trail of destruction and several people dead.
The storm was downgraded from a typhoon after sweeping past Tokyo earlier Friday, where it failed to disrupt the morning rush-hour, but was still packing winds of up 83 kilometres an hour (50 miles) and bringing heavy rain.
Workers at Fukushima had been scrambling to insulate the plant from any storm damage, but Neoguri had little impact on the site as it headed out into the Pacific.
Japan's weather agency, which had issued strong wind and rain warnings for the Fukushima region, later said the weather was forecast to improve Friday afternoon.
The mercury soared as the typhoon left Japan with Tokyo-area temperatures climbing to 38 degrees Celsius (100 F), leaving an 80-year-old woman dead from heat stroke and about 100 others hospitalised, public broadcaster NHK reported.
More than 60 people were left injured by the storm, officials and reports said, while as many as seven other deaths have been directly or indirectly linked to the typhoon.
Neoguri, which hit the mainland Thursday morning, reached Futtsu in Chiba prefecture, some 45 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of central Tokyo, shortly before 5:00 am (2000 GMT Thursday), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Television footage showed high waves slamming into breakwaters in Chiba, while emergency officials hurriedly built temporary barriers to guard against landslides.
But the impact of the typhoon on the capital was limited, with train and flight services running as normal during the morning rush hour, local media reported.
More than 680 houses in several prefectures were earlier flooded or damaged due to the typhoon and heavy rain, according to the disaster management agency, with about 489,000 households urged to seek shelter.
Officials said there was still a risk of flooding and landslides from Neoguri, which earlier in the week prompted local authorities to urge half a million people to seek shelter in Okinawa.