Hundreds of people fled their homes yesterday on a Japanese island already devastated by a typhoon for fear that torrential rain would trigger fresh mudslides.
Officials in Oshima, 120km south of Tokyo, advised 2,300 residents in two districts on Izu Oshima Island to evacuate, saying that rain was expected to intensify due to a depression.
A total of 632 people had taken shelter in school gyms and community halls by early afternoon, an official at the town’s administrative office said.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has warned that rainfall could reach 40mm per hour in the afternoon and has urged residents to be on alert.
The rain could trigger fresh landslides on the island, where at least 27 residents were killed when Typhoon Wipha triggered mudslides that buried about 30 houses and damaged more than 300 structures last week.
Two others died in or near Tokyo, and 21 people are still missing, but search operations have been suspended due to the bad weather.
Military airplanes flew 14 patients from the island’s medical center to hospitals in central Tokyo, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled a scheduled visit to the island yesterday.
Empress Michiko canceled events scheduled for yesterday at the imperial palace in Tokyo to celebrate her 79th birthday in the wake of the disaster.
Meanwhile, an even stronger typhoon was churning north in the Pacific toward the Japanese archipelago.
Typhoon Francisco, currently packing winds of up to 198kph near its center, is expected to be off the coast of Japan later in the week, according to the agency.