• Kyodo


Unstable atmospheric conditions extending across the country, including from the first typhoon to directly hit Kyushu in six years, spawned destructive tornados in the Kanto region Wednesday, two days after a twister wreaked havoc in Saitama, Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures.

Typhoon Toraji made landfall in Kyushu early Wednesday, prompting storm warnings, but the Meteorological Agency said the season’s 17th typhoon had weakened to an extratropical cyclone near Shikoku at around 9 a.m. and was moving northeast at around 30 kph. A swollen river in Gifu Prefecture, however, may have swept a girl away, and police are searching for her.

The cities of Kanuma and Yaita in central Tochigi Prefecture were believed to have been hit by twisters that tore off roofs and shattered windows in the afternoon, police said.

Two men were injured in Kanuma, where an apparent tornado tore the roofs off several houses and factories. Nearby Shioya suffered similar damage at around 1 p.m., local officials and police said.

In Yaita, windows were broken at a hospital and a school, and falling trees damaged about a dozen cars parked at a hospital. Calls poured in to City Hall from residents reporting that they had seen a tornado, officials said.

East Japan Railway Co. temporarily halted trains between the prefectural capital of Utsunomiya and the resort town of Nikko due to a power outage caused by lightning near Kanuma.

The highly unstable atmospheric conditions in Tochigi and the rest of the northern Kanto region were caused by warm, humid air sweeping under a stationary cold front over Honshu.

The regional weather observatory in Utsunomiya put out a tornado warning for Tochigi Prefecture at 12:47 p.m.

The city of Ise, Mie Prefecture, may also have been hit by at least one tornado Wednesday afternoon. Some 30 houses sustained roof and window damage.

On Monday, a tornado ripped its way from Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, to Noda, Chiba Prefecture, leaving more than 60 people injured and hundreds of houses damaged.

In regard to the weakening typhoon, the Meteorological Agency issued warnings for landslides and flooding as southern Kyushu was forecast to receive 300 mm of rainfall in the 24 hours to 6 a.m. Thursday, including periodic torrents of 80 mm per hour in some districts.

Heavy rain also hit Gifu and Aichi prefectures Wednesday afternoon, with more than 20,000 people in the Gifu cities of Ogaki and Kaizu and residents of Kita Ward, Nagoya, ordered to evacuate.

In Seki, Gifu Prefecture, police were looking for a missing junior high school girl after a witness Wednesday evening reported seeing a female being carried away by the Fujiya River, which runs through the city. No further details regarding the missing girl were provided.

Ogaki recorded 108.5 mm of rain in an hour, while Nagoya measured 109.0 mm.

The downpours prompted the Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) to halt 41 shinkansen runs.

Northern Kyushu was forecast to get as much as 250 mm of rain through Thursday morning.

The weather agency predicted winds of up to 126 kph and waves of 6 meters in southern Kyushu and winds of up to 108 kph and waves of 5 meters in the northern part of the island. Waves of 5 meters were forecast in the Amami region in the East China Sea, south of Kyushu.

The stormy weather also halted bullet trains and shut down expressways in Kyushu, and strong winds caused blackouts in the city of Kagoshima.

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