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Typhoon Roke Heads for Damaged Japanese Nuclear Reactor

A Million Ordered to Evacuate

by Helen Kennedy

Like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie, a million people in Japan were told Tuesday to flee the path of a typhoon heading straight for Fukushima's wrecked reactor.

Typhoon Roke is expected to make landfall in central Japan on Wednesday and move north-east - possibly towards the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, the Meteorological Agency said. (photo: NOAA) Typhoon Roke, a category 4 storm on the same scale used to classify hurricanes, began rapidly strengthening as it headed for Japan, packing 90 mph winds and a huge amount of rain.

The sprawling cyclone was forecast to take three days to pass over Japan, drenching most of the country with torrential downpours.

Roke was expected to make landfall in central Japan on Wednesday and move north-east towards the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, the Japanese meteorological agency said.

The plant, which melted down six months ago after cooling systems failed during a tidal wave, will not be entirely in "cold shutdown" until January.

It is chock full of radioactive material that could blow far and wide in the storm - including 26 million gallons of radioactive water.

But officials said the main threat from the storm was from flooding and mudslides.

TV pictures showed waist-high waters already in the streets of Nagoya city and it was feared some rivers may burst their banks.

National broadcaster NHK said 1.3 million people in the Nagoya area were advised to evacuate and 80,000 in the lowest lying areas were ordered to leave.

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