NAHA – Heavy rains intensified by Tropical Storm Mawar fell on Japan’s main archipelago Friday, halting trains and triggering floods and mudslides in central and western regions where residents were urged to use caution or evacuate.
Up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) of rain was forecast in parts of western and central Japan through Saturday evening. More than 1.27 million residents in vulnerable areas, including in Mie, Wakayama, Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures in central Japan, were warned of possible flooding and mudslides and advised to go to evacuation centers as of Friday afternoon, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Television videos showed swollen rivers in residential areas of Wakayama city, including one where brown water rose as high as the bottom of a bridge. There were reports of two people swept away by the swollen rivers, NHK public television said.
In Tokyo, the few pedestrians on the rainy streets clutched umbrellas as winds blew tree branches. Roads were flooded in the city's western district of Setegaya. Afternoon classes were canceled at some schools, and ferry operations in Tokyo Bay were halted for the rest of Friday.
Heavy rain and mudslide warnings were also issued in the nearby city of Yokohama, where a number of evacuation centers were opened. A mudslide in a residential area blocked part of a street in Kawasaki city.
In the central city of Toyohashi, fire and disaster authorities received more than 200 reports of flooding, NHK said.
Shinkansen super-express trains were suspended between Tokyo and Shin Osaka in western Japan due to heavy rain, according to Central Japan Railway Co. Flights and ferries in southern Japan were also canceled due to continuing strong winds. More than 17,500 homes in seven of the nine prefectures served by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings lost power.
Mawar remained well offshore in the Pacific Ocean, but its winds were strong enough as it passed Okinawa to cause injuries. An older woman who fell had a serious head injury in Nishihara city, while the injuries to seven other people were slight.
The tropical storm had sustained winds of up to 82 kph (51 mph) Friday afternoon and was blowing east-northeast at 25 kph (15 mph), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was near Amami-Oshima Island, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The warm and damp air from the tropical storm was intensifying seasonal rains, and a band of heavy rain was hovering over the islands, the meteorological agency said.
Mawar largely skirted Taiwan and the Philippines earlier this week. It sent waves crashing into Taiwan's east coast and brought heavy rains to the northern Philippines, though no major damage was reported.
Mawar was the strongest typhoon to hit Guam in more than two decades. As of Wednesday, only 28% of power had been restored and about half the water system was operational, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There have been long lines for gas, and officials estimate it will be four to six weeks before power is fully restored. FEMA did not yet know exactly how many homes were destroyed.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.