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Powerful Storm Makes Way Accross Japan - 2001-08-22

A powerful storm has killed six people, left two missing and injured dozens of others as it slowly makes it way across central Japan. The storm is expected to hit the Japanese capital with full force, Wednesday evening.

Tropical Storm Pabuk is heading slowly northeast along Japan's Pacific Ocean coastline, after making landfall on the country's main island, Honshu.

The storm, which was downgraded from typhoon status Tuesday, was still packing wind gusts of up to 108 kilometers per hour at its center.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says Pabuk is moving more slowly than anticipated because of a high pressure system stalled over the Pacific Ocean, east of Japan. Forecasters also say westerly winds, which usually push summer typhoons eastward, away from the Japanese Peninsula, are blowing too far north of the storm.

Thousands of people were temporarily evacuated from their homes. Thousands of households suffered from power outages in several prefectures in central Japan. Authorities ordered tens of thousands of others in the Nagoya area to prepare to leave their homes, as nearby rivers threatened to overflow their banks.

Japanese television showed scenes of swollen rivers and flooding in several storm-hit areas.

Police report numerous mudslides and damage to roads and homes. A main coastal expressway linking Tokyo with Nagoya was closed in Shizuoka Prefecture, because of high waves near the road.

For the third straight day, the storm forced the cancellation of many flights and train services on the main Honshu island.

Heavy rains and winds battered commuters during the morning rush hour in Tokyo, Wednesday. Authorities issued landslide and flood alerts because of an expected rainfall of some 200 millimeters in the capital.