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Tropical Storm Halong Update: Several Reported Dead in Japan After Storm

By Eric Zerkel
Published: August 10, 2014

Halong made landfall near Aki, Kochi prefecture, Japan as a minimal typhoon Sunday, forcing the evacuations of more than 1 million people, killing as many as nine people, injuring at least 78 others and dumping record-breaking rainfall on parts of western Japan as it moved through the island nation out to sea.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a rare emergency weather warning for Mie prefecture due to "unprecedented" rainfall that threatened to spark landslides and flooding of extremely swollen rivers. That weather warning was rescinded late Sunday night.

But not before the warning prompted the evacuations of some 500,000 people in two towns in Mie prefecture as at least 17 inches of rain were recorded during a 24 hour period in the town of Hakusan, according to weather.com meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. An additional 600,000 people were evacuated elsewhere across Japan, bringing the total number evacuated to more than 1 million, but some evacuations were lifted in western Japan as Halong blew out to sea.

The storm also disrupted land traffic and injured at several people as Japan began its annual "Obon" Buddhist holiday week. At least 78 people were injured, including six people in Miyazaki prefecture from strong winds as the storm grazed the southern portion of Japan.

As many as nine people may have died in the storm, according to several Japanese-language media outlets and the English-language Japan Times. Other news outlets reported a lower figure.

A 78-year-old man was killed after being swept away by waters in Iwate prefecture, the Associated Press reports. Elsewhere, in southwestern Wakayama prefecture, a surfer is believed to be missing after he attempted to surf the coast as the storm approached.

Hundreds of homes were flooded and around 70 others damaged by floodwaters and winds in western Japan. The storm also canceled more than 400 flights, stranding thousands of holidaymakers at airports around the country.

(MORE: Tropical Storm Halong Forecast)

Up to 42 inches of rain fell on Shikoku, one of Japan's four main islands, including over 33 inches of rain in a 24-hour period in Yamane, Kochi prefecture.

The rains followed less than a week after Tropical Storm Nakri dumped over 50 inches of rain in parts of the same prefecture, prompting concerns that river banks could burst.

Mount Torigata recorded its two heaviest 72-hour rainfalls on record from the back-to-back storms, measuring over 42 inches from Nakri and another 35 inches from Halong. The mountain, which is an open-pit limestone mine, picked up a total of over 2 meters of rain, or 79 inches, in the first 10 days of August.

Wind gusts up to 106 mph were measured in Japan's Daito Islands Thursday, but sustained winds have weakened considerably. A gust of 117 mph was recorded at the Cape Muroto observatory, on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific coast of Shikoku.

Halong made a second landfall west of Kobe on the main island of Honshu after briefly crossing the Seto Inland Sea.

The storm's winds diminished somewhat as it crossed Shikoku and Honshu and moved out of Japan into the Sea of Japan later Sunday, but rain from Halong continued to drench northern Japan into early Monday.

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