Tropical Storm Mawar intensifies rains for Japan, threatens floods and mudslides in south and west

NAHA, Japan (AP) : Heavy rains intensified by Tropical Storm Mawar fell on Japan’s main archipelago Friday, halting trains and transit and threatening floods and mudslides in south and western regions.

Warnings were issued in parts of western and central Japan, with up to 35 centimeters of rain forecast over the 24 hours through Saturday morning. Residents in vulnerable areas, including those in Wakayama, Kochi in the west and Nagano in central Japan, were warned of the potential for flooding and mudslides and advised to go to evacuation centers if possible.

Television footage showed swollen rivers in residential area in the Wakayama city, including one where brown water rose as high as the bottom of a bridge over it.

In Tokyo, the few pedestrians on the rainy streets clutched umbrellas as winds blew tree branches around. Afternoon classes were also canceled at some schools in Tokyo.

Shinkansen super-express trains were suspended or delayed between Tokyo and Okayama in western Japan due to heavy rain, according to the Central Japan Railway Co. Flights and ferries in southern Japan also were canceled due to continuing strong winds.

Mawar remained well offshore in the Pacific Ocean, but its winds were strong enough as it passed Okinawa to cause injuries. An older woman who fell had a serious head injury in Nishihara city, while the injuries to seven other people were slight.

The tropical storm had sustained winds blowing up to 82kph Friday afternoon and was blowing east-northeast at 25kph, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was near Amami-Oshima Island, about 1,500 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.

The warm and damp air from the tropical storm was intensifying seasonal rains, and a linear band of heavy rain was hovering over the islands, the meteorological agency said.

Mawar largely skirted Taiwan and the Philippines earlier this week. It sent waves crashing into Taiwan’s east coast and brought heavy rains to the northern Philippines, though no major damage was reported.

Mawar was the strongest typhoon to hit Guam in more than two decades. As of Wednesday, only 28 percent of power had been restored and about half the water system was operational, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

There have been long lines for gas, and officials estimate it will be four to six weeks before power is fully restored. FEMA did not yet know exactly how many homes were destroyed.