National

One man dead, 49 people injured as powerful tropical storm hits western Japan

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Heavy rainfall and strong winds continued to hit the nation on Friday as a powerful tropical storm moved slowly over the Sea of Japan after ripping through western parts of the country the previous day.

On Thursday, severe Tropical Storm Krosa left one man dead and 49 people injured while also sparking evacuation advisories and travel chaos during a peak holiday period.

In the city of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, an 82-year-old man was confirmed dead after falling from a ship amid strong winds and high waves. The 49 injuries were reported across 13 prefectures.

Over 7,000 residents evacuated their homes after the Meteorological Agency warned of record rainfall totaling 1,200 mm in Pacific coastal areas as well as landslides and floods.

Some 1,700 passengers at Kansai International Airport in Osaka were stranded overnight Thursday after 232 domestic and international flights were canceled. The nation’s third busiest airport, located on a man-made island in Osaka Bay, was crippled by powerful Typhoon Jebi last September.

As of 9 a.m. Friday, Krosa was moving north-northeast at a speed of 35 kph (about 22 mph) around 400 km off Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture. It had an atmospheric pressure of 980 hectopascals at its center and was packing winds of up to 126 kph (about 80 mph). It is expected to be downgraded to an extratropical cyclone by early Saturday, according to the agency.

On Thursday, dramatic television footage showed violent winds uprooting trees, snapping lampposts and spinning the pods on a ferris wheel. High waves smashed into a breakwater, engulfing a 10-meter-high lighthouse, while swollen rivers broke their banks and swamped nearby roads.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that a party of 18 people including children got stranded during a barbecue in a valley in Oita Prefecture when the river rose rapidly on Wednesday. They were rescued the next morning.

Krosa also sparked travel chaos as people returned to major cities following the Bon holiday. More than 720 domestic flights were canceled to and from cities in western Japan, and bullet train services were either scrapped or sharply reduced.

Ferries connecting Shikoku and other parts of Japan were also canceled as high waves lashed the coast.

West Japan Railway Co. suspended all Sanyo Shinkansen services operating Thursday between Shin-Osaka and Kokura, Fukuoka Prefecture. Local services in Okayama, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures were also canceled, the railway operator said. Shikoku Railway Co. suspended services on the island.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5