TOKYO – A major storm dumped heavy rain on western Japan Thursday after sweeping through the southern islands of Okinawa, where it caused extensive flooding, knocked out power and injured at least 32 people. The storm also boosted rainfall levels in other parts of the country, leaving two people dead.
One of the biggest storms ever to hit Japan during the summer, tropical storm Neoguri reached the southernmost main island of Kyushu on Thursday morning, and was forecast to travel up the Pacific coast of Japan to major cities including Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.
Kyushu’s Fukuoka prefecture issued warnings for strong winds, high tides and heavy rains, and advised people to stay indoors as much as possible.
Neoguri, which hit Okinawa on Tuesday at typhoon strength, was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday after losing strength. It toppled trees and flooded cars in Okinawa, which experienced its heaviest rainfall in a half century, according to the Okinawan government.
In central Japan, rainfall elevated by the storm caused floods and landslides, killing two people. In Fukushima, an 83-year-old man fell into a swollen river and died, while a landslide hit a town in Nagano prefecture, killing a 12-year-old boy, according to Japanese media reports.
The torrents of rainfall could trigger more landslides and floods, and much of eastern Japan was at risk of lightning and tornadoes.
On Okinawa, more than 105,000 homes lost power at the storm’s peak. The Okinawan government raised the injury toll to 32 on Wednesday, say two were in serious condition.
Neoguri, which means “raccoon dog” in Korean, was packing sustained winds of 93 kilometres (58 miles) per hour on Thursday morning, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.
Follow Yuri Kageyama at twitter.com/yurikageyama; Mari Yamaguchi at twitter.com/mariyamaguchi