TOKYO – A tropical storm moved out of Japan on Sunday after lashing the country with rain and wind, leaving one person dead and prompting evacuation orders for more than 1 million residents near swollen rivers.
Tropical Storm Halong also disrupted land and air traffic and injured dozens of people as Japan began its annual “Obon” Buddhist holiday week.
Originally a typhoon, Halong was downgraded to a tropical storm as it approached the southwest coast and made two landfalls – over Shikoku Island and Hyogo prefecture in western Japan. It exited over the Sea of Japan from the northern coast near Kyoto on Sunday evening, and was expected to lose further strength over the next 12 hours.
The storm was off the northern coast of Wajima City, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of Tokyo, on Sunday night.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency lifted a heavy rain alert for Mie prefecture in central Japan, and evacuation orders for most residents in the region and other areas were withdrawn. About 200,000 people were still subject to evacuation in some areas, down from about 1.2 million earlier Sunday.
In Iwate prefecture in northern Japan, a 78-year-old man was found dead late Saturday after plunging into a swollen irrigation canal at his farm, local police said. In the western prefecture of Wakayama, a surfer went missing.
Public broadcaster NHK said 78 people were injured in the storm.
Halong brought powerful rain and wind to Tokyo, where an annual fireworks show scheduled for Sunday was called off.
More than 200 flights were cancelled, stranding thousands of holidaymakers at airports around the country. The storm also flooded about 330 homes and damaged 70 others in western Japan.
The meteorological agency said the storm, packing winds of up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour, was expected to dump more rain in eastern and northern Japan by Monday morning, and warned of landslides and floods.
Japan was also shaken Sunday afternoon by a magnitude-6.1 earthquake that struck off the northeastern coast. There was no danger of a tsunami, and there were no immediate reports of any injuries or damage. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said nuclear facilities in the area remained intact.