(ENVR) Japan - rain from Typhoon Danas triggers mudslide 2 killed


Two reported killed after rain from Typhoon Danas triggers mudslide

The Associated Press

TOKYO (September 10, 2001 1:26 p.m. EDT) - Typhoon Danas dumped heavy rains Monday across Japan, where two people were swept away in a mudslide, hundreds spent the night huddled in evacuation centers and thousands of travelers were stranded at airports.

The typhoon was crawling toward Japan's main island of Honshu at a speed of 6 mph and was expected to hit coastal areas early Tuesday.

Parts of the country have been inundated with nearly a foot of rain since Saturday, with downpours drenching Japan at a rate of nearly 3 inches an hour. More than 9 inches was in the forecast for Tuesday, and Danas was packing winds up to 78 mph, the central government's Meteorological Agency said.

By late Monday, two people were reported killed and another four were missing in mudslides triggered by heavy rainfall. Ten others were injured by flying debris, said Nobuo Kazai, a spokesman for the National Police Agency in Tokyo.

Waterlogged hills emerged as the most serious threat. Two maintenance workers on a team sent to inspect a highway in Gunma prefecture north of Tokyo died when an embankment collapsed, burying them. A third worker was seriously injured.

In northwestern Japan, a 30-yard-long mudslide enveloped the home of an elderly couple trapped inside. Rescue efforts were suspended until early Tuesday because of concerns that torrential rains could send another wave of mud crashing down.

It was unclear whether they were still alive, said a spokesman for police in Nagano, about 112 miles northwest of the capital.

More than 140 homewoners throughout Japan reported flooding, Kazai said. Hundreds of people spent the night in schools and other evacuation centers, reports said.

In Tokyo, meanwhile, a tornado swept through the western part of the city, felling trees and ripping the roofs off at least 30 houses. No injuries were reported, city police said.

Thousands of rail passengers were stranded in central Japan after strong winds and lashing rains kept dozens of the country's super-fast bullet trains from leaving stations, rail officials said. Airlines also reported cancellations and delays.

A landslide early Monday buried 20 parked cars in the town of Ootsuki, about 60 miles west of Tokyo, according to local police spokesman Tadashi Atobe. No one was injured.

Toyota halted production late Monday at 12 factories lying in Danas' path. The temporary shutdown was to run through early Tuesday, affecting the production of 6,000 vehicles, company spokeswoman Hisayo Ogawa said.

By late Monday, Japan's 15th typhoon of the season was hovering over the Pacific Ocean about 50 miles southwest of Omaezaki, a cape about 118 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The name Danas comes from the word meaning "to experience" in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. After making landfall, the storm was forecast to head into northern Japan.

Separately, another storm hovered off Kumejima, one of the islands in the Okinawan chain in Japan's southernmost prefecture, the agency said. The storm Nari, named for a Korean word meaning "flower," was packing winds up to 67 mph, the Meteorological Agency said.