Heavy rain warning issued for typhoon-hit Izu-Oshima Island

JIJI, Kyodo

A heavy rain warning was issued for the Izu-Oshima Island on Sunday, after residents were earlier advised to take shelter amid fears of another landslide disaster following last week’s powerful typhoon.

As of Sunday evening, the 27th typhoon of the year was barreling north in waters off the Philippines, approaching the Japanese archipelago. It could reach the nation in the latter half of the week, the Meteorological Agency warned.

In an effort to prevent loss of life, the municipal government of Oshima decided to keep the evacuation advisory it issued Saturday in place at least until Monday morning. Following the advisory, issued to around 2,300 residents in two districts, some 990 people took refuge and spent an uneasy night at four shelters.

A landslide triggered by Typhoon Wipha on Wednesday killed 27 people and left another 22 missing on the island, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Oshima falls under Tokyo’s jurisdiction.

On Sunday, all 14 inpatients aged in the 60s to 90s at Oshima Medical Center were airlifted out of the Pacific island by a Self-Defense Forces transport plane to a hospital in Tokyo. The center is the only medical facility on the island that accepts inpatients.

Although not covered by the evacuation advisory, the center decided on the transfer in view of the threat of a possible landslide nearby or a power blackout due to the heavy rain and approaching typhoon, officials said.

As of Sunday evening, a temporary blackout was affecting a wide area of Oshima, including the location of the municipal government and evacuations shelters, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The utility is investigating the cause of the outage.

The search for missing people from Wednesday’s landslide will remain suspended while the evacuation advisory is in effect. The police, firefighters and SDF personnel suspended search and rescue efforts Saturday following the evacuation advisory.

After the Meteorological Agency issued its warning early Sunday, the municipal government alerted residents to possible heavy rain and strong winds via its community wireless system. In one evacuated area, a main road was closed due to flooding.

Oshima Mayor Masafumi Kawashima said a landslide warning may be issued and signaled readiness to consider broadening the evacuation advisory to other areas or issuing a stronger directive.