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Japan Mops Up After Record Rains

September 14, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Workers shoveled muddy water from streets Thursday, trying to help thousands of people stranded in shelters return home after record rainfall caused floods that killed nine people in central Japan.

Some 12,227 people remained in shelters Thursday morning, down from a peak of more than 17,000 Wednesday, said Hiroshi Kato, an official with Aichi prefecture, the Japanese state hit hardest by the downpour. Most evacuation orders in the region have been lifted, and many of the remaining residents were expected to return home by Thursday evening, Kato said.

Power remained out in 7,500 homes, but it was expected back on by evening, said Yukiko Morishita, a spokeswoman for Chubu Electric Power Co.

Television footage Thursday showed residents cleaning chairs, floors and appliances after torrential rains Tuesday caused floods and mudslides. Some 50,000 bullet train passengers were forced to sleep in stations or in stalled trains Tuesday, and two major carmakers were forced to halt production.

All but a few local trains were operating normally Thursday, Kato said.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest automaker, resumed operations Wednesday after it shut down factories nationwide on Tuesday. Mitsubishi Motor Corp., which halted production at its two factories in Nagoya, 165 miles west of Tokyo, also went back on line.

In central Japan, 23 inches of rain was recorded in Tokai, near Nagoya, the local observatory said. It was the heaviest downpour ever in Japan, the Meteorological Agency said.

On Japan’s southern Okinawa Island, a U.S. Marine was swept away and drowned in typhoon-fed high waves Tuesday, local police said. The Marine’s name and other details were not available, police said.

Elsewhere, Typhoon Saomai, packing winds of 77 mph, was off the coast of Okinawa and moving toward China on Thursday, the Meteorological Agency said. Okinawa is about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Separately, earthquake activity on islands south of Tokyo is subsiding, according to a report released Wednesday by the Meteorological Agency. The islands in the Izu chain south of Tokyo have been shaken by thousands of quakes in recent months, and a series of volcanic eruptions on Miyake Island has forced the evacuation of all but a few of the island’s 3,855 residents.

The report did not specifically address the situation on Miyake.

Update hourly