Japan’s biggest utility struggles to restore power after record storm

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TOKYO (Sept 11): Japan’s biggest utility is struggling to recover from a record-force typhoon that struck near Tokyo on Monday, estimating it won’t be able to return power to all customers until at least this weekend.

Service won’t be fully restored until after Sept 13, Kazuyuki Shiokawa, chief engineer for Tepco’s power transmission unit, told reporters Wednesday afternoon, adding that the exact timing still remains unclear. About 433,600 customers were without power as of 6 p.m. local time, according to the company, officially known as Tokyo Electric Power Co Holding Ltd.

Tepco had earlier aimed to restore by Wednesday, all customers impacted by Typhoon Faxai’s strike Monday morning.

“The damage caused by the typhoon on transmission lines and poles is more serious than we originally estimated,” spokesman Koki Okada said by phone earlier Wednesday. Work was also disrupted Tuesday night by thunderstorms, he said.

Wind speeds in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, hit 57.5 meters per second (129 miles per hour) on Monday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Faxai is the strongest typhoon to strike the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, since current records started in 1991, according to Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Of the total customers without power, 98% are in Chiba prefecture. The damage included two transmission towers that were knocked down by strong winds, impacting about 110,000 customers.