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Typhoon Winds Close Control Tower at Tokyo's Narita Airport

  • Associated Press

A NASA satellite image shows Typhoon Mindulle(top) over Japan, August 22, 2016.

A NASA satellite image shows Typhoon Mindulle(top) over Japan, August 22, 2016.

Strong winds from a typhoon forced air traffic controllers to temporarily abandon the control tower at Narita International Airport on Monday, shutting down one of Tokyo's two main airports for about an hour. Hundreds of domestic flights were canceled at the city's other major airport.

Narita was closed at 2:20 p.m. after the controllers left the tower when wind speeds reached 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour, said a Transport Ministry official at the airport who would give only his surname, Matsumoto. The airport reopened around an hour later.

It was the first time the tower had been closed because of a typhoon. It closed once before, during the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami in March 2011.

Typhoon Mindulle, which made landfall south of Tokyo early Monday afternoon, brought heavy rain and strong winds to Tokyo and surrounding areas.

Narita, which is located outside of Tokyo, said that 85 international and about 30 domestic flights had been canceled. More than 400 domestic flights were canceled at the city's other major airport, Haneda.

Mindulle had sustained winds of 126 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 180 kph (112 mph). It was forecast to move north over the Tohoku region and reach Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Tuesday.

Japanese television showed scattered damage around the region. One house had lost much of its roof, and some second-story wall tiles had fallen off another. A train on a small commuter line in western Tokyo had to be abandoned after the earth under the tracks gave way, leaving the tracks, train and overhead lines tilted, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported. No one was injured.

Heavy rains have swollen rivers, and authorities are warning of the possibility of flooding and landslides.

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