TOKYO (AP) — A strong tropical storm lashed central and western Japan with heavy rain and high winds Tuesday, causing flooding and power blackouts and paralyzing air and ground transportation while many people were traveling for a Buddhist holiday week.
The storm weakened from Typhoon Lan early in the morning and made landfall near Cape Shionomisaki in the central prefecture of Wakayama, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. On Tuesday afternoon, it was just south of Fukuchiyama city and had sustained winds of up to 90 kph (55 mph) as it headed north. It was then expected to veer east toward Hokkaido over waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the JMA said.
NHK public television said 20 people, many of them elderly, were injured in five prefectures near the storm’s path — Hyogo, Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and Wakayama.
The storm caused rivers to overflow, damaged some buildings and paralyzed traffic. In Maizuru in northern Kyoto prefecture, a flooded river sent muddy water flowing into some houses. In Nara, just south of Kyoto, scaffolding on one building collapsed, and a partial wall collapse at a train station in Tsuruhashi halted local train services.
Local municipalities advised more than 230,000 residents to take shelter in safer buildings such as community centers.
Up to 35 centimeters (13.7 inches) of rainfall was forecast in the Tokai region in central Japan through Wednesday morning. The JMA urged residents in the area to avoid unessential outings and warned of potential mudslides, flooding and thunderstorms.
More than 50,000 homes were without power in nine prefectures in the central and western regions earlier Tuesday, but electricity had been restored to three-quarters of them by late afternoon.
The storm hit Japan in the middle of the Bon Buddhist holiday week, affecting many Japanese who were traveling to visit their families and relatives, as transportation and event operators in the storm’s predicted path decided to suspend services through Tuesday.
Central Japan Railway Co. said Shinkansen bullet train operations between Nagoya in central Japan and Okayama in western Japan were suspended Tuesday, and service between Tokyo and Nagoya was reduced. Expressways in the region were also closed, and hundreds of domestic flights were canceled on Tuesday.
Representatives from 10 prefectures canceled their plans to attend an annual memorial marking the Aug. 15 end of World War II. Games scheduled to be played Tuesday in Japan’s hugely popular annual high school baseball tournament, held at Koshien stadium in Hyogo prefecture, were postponed to Wednesday.