Japan Typhoon Roke Kills 4; Headed Toward Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Typhoon Roke swept into Japan Wednesday, killing at least four people and bringing in heavy rain and strong winds. Officials say the storm is on a path to the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant.

A fresh hit could further deteriorate conditions around the crippled plant, which was affected by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake in March. The earthquake triggered a 23-foot tsunami, which battered Japan's east coast in March.

"The biggest element of concern is the rise of [radioactive] water levels in turbine buildings," Junichi Matsumoto, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. official, said at a news conference.

Roke has also disrupted transportation systems and forced 1.3 million people to leave their homes due to swelling rivers.

In the city of Moriyama, 80,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Japan's meteorological agency is recommending that citizens exercise optimum caution against unwieldy winds and high waves in wide areas from western to northern Japan.

Typhoon Roke is the second biggest storm to hit Japan this month and its 136 mph winds dumped more than 15 inches of rain in parts of eastern and western Japan over the past 24 hours, the meteorological agency said.

The storm cut power to more than 575,500 households in Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s service area, and forced companies, including Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to close some plants, company spokesmen said.

Roke initially made landfall near Hamamatsu, 124 miles west of Tokyo, around 2 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET), and paved a path that went through eastern Japan before moving north of the capital in the evening.

According to Reuters, television footage showed waves crashing over breakwaters on the Pacific coast and trees being knocked down on the streets of Tokyo.

Earlier this month, Typhoon Talas hit western Japan and left an estimated 100 people dead or missing in its wake.

An average of two to four typhoons make landfall in Japan each year.