Floods, landslides send thousands to shelters

Typhoon leaves seven dead as it heads toward Tokyo

AP, AFP-JIJI, Kyodo, Staff Report

A powerful typhoon slammed into western Japan on Thursday, ripping up trees, causing widespread flooding and sending mudslides plowing into houses.

At least seven people were reported dead and nearly 50 injured.

Tens of thousands were urged to seek shelter as Japan’s eighth typhoon of the year headed toward major cities, including Tokyo.

One of the biggest storms ever to strike Japan at this time of year, Neoguri made landfall in Kyushu at Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture, after sweeping through Okinawa, where it caused floods and knocked out power.

It was forecast to travel up the Pacific coast before coming close to the capital early Friday morning.

Areas far from the storm’s path were also affected, with high waves out at sea and deadly flooding on land.

A tributary of the Kiso River became a raging flood in the town of Nagiso, Nagano Prefecture, where a mudslide swallowed two houses late Wednesday afternoon, killing a 12-year-old boy.

Nagano police and firefighters said the boy’s mother and two brothers were retrieved from the debris and taken to a hospital but did not have serious injuries.

The Nagano regional meteorological observatory said Nagiso had received 70 mm of rainfall in an hour, a record for July.

One resident told NHK he heard what sounded like an “earthquake” late Wednesday and went outside, where he found a river going through the neighborhood.

“I saw rocks nearly 2 meters in size rolling down. . . . It made me shrink to see, as I’d never witnessed anything like it before,” the man said.

In Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture, a 77-year-old man was found dead in a drain outside his home early Thursday, NHK said. In Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, an 83-year-old man was found drowned in a ditch Wednesday, the broadcaster said.

On Tuesday, the storm claimed the lives of a 62-year-old man knocked overboard from a boat in Kochi Prefecture, and an 81-year-old fisherman in Kumamoto Prefecture, local officials said.

Two more deaths were reported Thursday on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, which the typhoon had already passed but where maritime conditions remained rough.

Local police said three men who had gone to the beach for a swim were swept away around 11:30 a.m. Two died, but one was rescued.

Meanwhile, nearly 50 people had received treatment for injuries by early Thursday afternoon, local police and media reports said.

The government held a disaster management meeting Thursday morning to discuss how to cope with the storm as it continues across Japan.

Round-the-clock television footage pinpointed its latest location and helmet-clad reporters surveyed the damage left in its wake.