Japan mudslide islanders take shelter as new storm looms

A rescue worker looks through books and pictures from a collapsed house on the ground as he looks for a victim at a site damaged by a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo October 17, 2013.  — Reuters pic
A rescue worker looks through books and pictures from a collapsed house on the ground as he looks for a victim at a site damaged by a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo October 17, 2013. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Oct 25 — People on a storm-battered island in Japan took shelter today, as another typhoon—one of two looming in the Pacific—looked set to sideswipe the coast.

“We have advised people in all areas of the island to prepare for evacuation,” said an official in Oshima where rain-triggered mudslides left 31 people dead and 13 others missing last week.

Around 10 per cnet of the island’s roughly 8,000-strong population are reported to have fled ahead of the coming storm for fear of further landslides.

“After the town office issued the advisory by public address system, police and firefighters have been calling door to door,” said Kazuhiro Mochizuki of the Oshima town office.

There were 12 places designated as public shelters, including schools and community centres, he said.

Typhoon Francisco, packing winds of up to 160kph, was located east of the main Okinawan island around noon, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The storm centre was expected to pass by Oshima, some 120km south of Tokyo, in 24 hours.

The much stronger Typhoon Lekima was further east and on course to meet Francisco in the northern Pacific.

The town has evacuated 127 people to Tokyo by chartered ferry or military helicopter in the past two days. They were mostly elderly people in need of nursing care, and their helpers.

“There are people who have voluntarily left the island using regular ferry and airline services. But we don’t have the number,” Mochizuki said.

The island is a popular tourist spot that last year welcomed 210,000 visitors, drawn by prolific camellia blooms and the volcanic island’s accessible caldera. — AFP

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