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Storms Flood Streets in Japan

September 13, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Skies cleared Wednesday over cities swamped by Japan’s heaviest rain on record, but streets were still flooded and fears of landslides kept hundreds of thousands of people away from their homes.

The torrential rains Tuesday in central Japan _ bolstered by a typhoon creeping up from the south _ killed seven people, stranded 50,000 bullet train passengers and forced Toyota and Mitsubishi to halt production.

Officials were scrambling to drain muddy water from flooded streets in the city of Nagoya, said Kenji Ogawa, an official with Aichi prefecture, which was hit hardest by the downpour.

On Wednesday, nearly 364,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes, though it was unclear exactly how many sought refuge.

Ogawa said it was not yet known when those who did would be allowed to return home because the threat of mudslides had not subsided.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest automaker, resumed operations Wednesday afternoon after shutting down factories nationwide the day before, the company said.

Mitsubishi Motor Corp., which halted production at its two factories in Nagoya, 165 miles west of Tokyo, had already gone back online.

A U.S. Marine was swept away by high waves and drowned at a military base on southern Okinawa Island, local police said Wednesday.

The Marine was watching the typhoon-fed waves with friends on the coast at Camp Schwab when he was carried away Tuesday evening, a police spokesman said. The Marine’s name and other details were not available, he said.

Typhoon Saomai, packing winds of 77 mph, was off the coast of Okinawa and heading toward China late Wednesday, the Meteorological Agency said.

About 17,800 homes were without electricity on Okinawa at the height of the storm, but power has since been restored, said Shinsaku Toma, a spokesman for Okinawa Electric Power Co.

Okinawa is about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo.

In central Japan, rainfall totaling 23 inches was recorded in Tokai, near Nagoya, the local observatory said.

The downpour was the heaviest ever recorded in Japan, the Meteorological Agency said.

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