NEW: 18 people have died, 44 missing after Typhoon Wipha hits the Tokyo area
Oshima, a small island south of Tokyo, has been hardest hit
More than 500 domestic and international flights were canceled
The typhoon is moving north along the Pacific coast of Japan
At least 18 people have died and 44 people are missing after Typhoon Wipha pummeled the Tokyo area on Wednesday.
The majority died after heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides that blocked roads and crushed houses in Oshima, a small island 120 km (75 miles) south of Tokyo, a local official said.
One woman died in the Tokyo metropolitan area but the capital was largely spared significant damage.
Forty one people were still missing on the offshore island as of Thursday morning local time.
More than 500 domestic and international flights were canceled at Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports and the national rail operator halted bullet train services in central and northern Japan.
The typhoon moved north along the Pacific coast of Japan and was expected to reach the northernmost island of Hokkaido by late Wednesday.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the main electricity supplier in Tokyo and central Japan, said blackouts affected more than 56,000 households.
TEPCO, which has been struggling to deal with a series of leaks at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said workers at the plant were “on vigil” and accumulated rainwater had been released from storage tanks.