Torrential rain leaves one dead

Kyodo News

Torrential rain that hit extensive areas in central and eastern Japan from Thursday through Friday left one woman dead, and three people missing in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture.

A man believed to be about 60 years old was also found unconscious Friday morning in an irrigation ditch in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, near a bicycle he had apparently been riding, police said.

About 1.27 million people in 500,000 households in Aichi Prefecture — some 140,000 households in Okazaki and 360,000 in Nagoya — were temporarily advised Friday to evacuate due to the rain.

Okazaki requested via the prefectural government that the Self-Defense Forces dispatch troops for disaster relief.

The rainfall in Okazaki registered 146 mm per hour up until 2 a.m. Friday, the seventh-heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Japan, according to the Meteorological Agency. The volume of rainfall is similar to the heavy rain that hit Aichi Prefecture in September 2000. At that time, the heavy rain killed 10 people.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) temporarily suspended bullet train services between Nagoya and Gifu-Hashima, Gifu Prefecture, on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

In the Kanto region, commutes were disrupted as East Japan Railway Co. suspended ordinary and express trains between Hachioji, western Tokyo, and Otsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, on the Chuo Line from the first train in the morning due to the rain.

About 150 households were ordered to evacuate in Hachioji, while Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, issued an evacuation advisory to 350 households.

The body of a woman was found in a flooded house Friday morning in Okazaki. She was identified as Suzue Kuroyanagi, 76, who lived in the house, police said.

“The first floor of our house was completely flooded with the water level reaching the first floor ceiling,” said Hanko Suzuki, 81, Kuroyanagi’s next-door neighbor. “We could evacuate to the second floor.”

Also in Okazaki, police and firefighters are searching for an 80-year-old woman who was living alone and is missing. Two men in Okazaki, aged 79 and 73, are also unaccounted for.

According to the city, five rivers running through Okazaki overflowed and a bridge collapsed, while about 700 houses and buildings were flooded.

The city set up shelters at elementary and junior high schools for evacuees.

The central government has created an information liaison office at the crisis management center of the prime minister’s office to cope with the damage from the heavy rain.

Flooding also hit houses in Tokyo as well as Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.

On the Chuo Line, limited express train services between Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, were also suspended.

Keio Corp. has suspended services between Kitano and Takaosanguchi stations in western Tokyo on the Takao Line due to a derailment.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry dispatched two officials to investigate the derailment.

Mobile disaster info

JIJI Three major mobile phone operators started disaster bulletin board services Friday morning after the central part of Japan was hit by heavy rain.

The services by NTT DoCoMo Inc., KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp. allow users to check the safety of affected areas on the Internet.

Separately, KDDI restricted services for its au mobile phones due to a surge in phone calls in some areas of Aichi Prefecture hardest hit by the rain.