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Tsukuba residents describe havoc of storm hitting city

Firefighters and other workers on Monday examine the damage caused by Sunday's tornado in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Publication Date : 08-05-2012


Recovery work began in Tsukuba in Japan's Ibaraki prefecture on Monday after a tornado ripped through the city leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

On Sunday, the final day of the Golden Week holiday period, the tornado ripped houses off their foundations, tore roofs off buildings, toppled utility poles and turned automobiles upside down.

The tornado wreaked havoc over a stretch of nine kilometres, beginning near the city's Yoshinuma district.

According to Tadashi Utsuno, 68, president of Utsuno Ryokka Doboku, a horticultural firm, it started raining suddenly around noon Sunday and the unusually large raindrops prompted him to tell his workers to go inside the building. He then saw the tornado approaching about 300 metres from the southwest.

He watched a gust of wind lift a steel prefabricated shed into the air with loud noise. As the tornado approached, Utsuno said he could not see anything in the swirling dust.

Utsuno said he was almost blown out of the forklift he was operating at the time and clung desperately to the steering wheel. Drums, hurled into the air, rained down on him, hitting his shoulders and back.

Shortly afterward, he saw his office's roof ripped off by the wind and crash to the ground after it was hurled into power lines about 300 metres away.

"Things happened so fast. I thought I would die," Utsuno said.

In the Hojo district, which suffered more damage than other areas, the tornado ripped houses off their foundations and an entire warehouse was blown away. Parked vehicles were turned over.

A woman living in a five-storey housing complex in the Hojo district said, "[The wind] whirling near the building sounded like a jetliner."

A 38-year-old man living on the second floor of the housing complex said he returned home at about 1:20pm after the tornado had passed through the area and found the door to his apartment open, even though it had been locked.

The living room windows were broken, and he thought the wind had smashed the door open from inside the apartment.

In the Hojo district, residents and shop owners were busy with recovery work Monday morning, taking furniture out of buildings and covering broken windows with sheets.

Ground Self-Defence Force members, firefighters and other professionals also worked to remove toppled utility poles and other debris.


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