A woman rides her bicycle down a flooded street in Nagoya, Japan (Kyodo news)

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to leave homes across Japan after Tropical Typhoon Etau ripped through the country. Military helicopters plucked residents from the roofs of their homes.

Lashing rain pounded the country for a second day, and the Kinugawa River has burst through a flood barrier, sending a tsunami-like wall of water into Joso, about 50 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, news reports said. A bullet train service has reportedly been partially suspended. The torrential downpour is also threatening safety at the Fukushima nuclear plant, closed since a 2011 disaster, as it has overwhelmed drainage pumps at the site’s contaminated water treatment facility, a spokesman for operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said.

Flooding from Typhoon Etau has caused new leaks of contaminated water to flow from the Fukushima nuclear power station into the ocean. The incident came after a rush of water overwhelmed the site’s drainage pumps.

Tokyo Electric Power CO. (TEPCO) informed the public today that hundreds of tons of radioactive water had leaked from the facility, but maintained that the incident posed no risk to the environment. Large quantities of contaminated water need to be stored in special reservoirs that were used to cool melted fuel rods from reactors at the TEPCO site, which was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

TEPCO had acknowledged the risk of the typhoon to the nuclear site on Tuesday, outlining the preventative measures it was taking.  Typhoon No.18 (Etau) is expected to approach the central area of Japan’s honshu island and could affect Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as well in the next few days.

Meanwhile TV footage showed people in the Ibaraki prefecture city of Joso, which lies on the Kinugawa River north of Tokyo, desperately waving towels, waiting for help on the upper floors of their homes engulfed in heavy floods. Some residents called for help standing in waist-high water, the national broadcaster reported.

Part of a hotel in the town of Nikko, whose ancient shrines and Buddhist temples are listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has collapsed, news agencies reported. There were no reports of injuries.
(Russia Today)