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Tornado hits eastern Japan

May 6, 2012

A tornado ripped through Tsukuba, 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Tokyo on Sunday, killing a teenager, wounding dozens of others, cutting power and destroying houses.

Debris is seen in a damaged residential area after a tornado struck Tsukuba, north of Tokyo
Image: Reuters

A 14-year-old boy was killed and scores wounded on Sunday as a tornado swept through the Japanese city of Tsukuba in Ibaraki prefecture, located 60 kilometers northeast of the capital Tokyo.

More than 30 other people were injured, including at least 10 who were being treated in hospitals, fire officials said.

Television footage showed houses swept from their foundations, overturned cars in muddy debris and fallen concrete power poles. Minor injuries were also reported in neighboring Tochigi prefecture, while a swathe of eastern Japan was battered by strong winds, hail, lightning and heavy rain.

"You could see the roaring column of wind rushing with sparks from live power lines inside it," a local man told national broadcaster NHK.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 24,000 homes were without electricity as lightning added to the storm's damage.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant, which went into multiple meltdowns from last year's tsunami, was not affected by the storms, operator TEPCO said.

Tornadoes are relatively rare in the Tokyo area.

ng/tj (AFP, dpa, AP)