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Nuclear plant avoids typhoon havoc

A powerful typhoon that left at least 13 people dead or missing, paralysed commuter trains and dumped rain on tsunami-ravaged north eastern Japan is heading to the major northern island of Hokkaido.

Typhoon Roke caused no immediate problems other than broken security cameras at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which had been in its path overnight.

The plant had been sent into meltdown by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and efforts are still under way to bring the reactors under control.

Hiroki Kawamata, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power, said several cameras set up to monitor the plant were damaged, but that there had been no further leaks of radioactive water or material into the environment.

"We are seeing no problems so far," he said.

The storm passed just west of the plant on its way north late on Wednesday. The typhoon brought new misery to the north-eastern region, dumping up to 17 inches of rain in some areas.

Two people were rescued after they were found buried in a landslide in northern Iwate prefecture early today, and one remained unconscious, Kyodo News agency reported.

Hundreds of tsunami survivors in government shelters in the Miyagi state town of Onagawa were forced to evacuate for fear of flooding.

More than 200,000 households in central Japan were without electricity. Police and local media reported 13 people dead or missing in southern and central regions, many of them believed swept away by rivers swollen with rains.

Overnight in Tokyo, where many rush hour commuter trains were suspended for hours, thousands of commuters got stuck at stations across the sprawling city and stood in long lines for buses and cabs.

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