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CNN Today

Central Japan Hobbled by Record Rain, Flash Floods, Mudslides

Aired September 12, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In central Japan, the combination of an approaching typhoon and seasonal rains are causing devastating flash floods and mudslides. At least seven people are dead, tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes.

And Tokyo bureau chief Marina Kamimura has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): With vast swathes of the city of Nagoya engulfed in a muddy bath, emergency personnel, including Japan's self-defense forces, pried through the streets in boats, rescuing those still trapped in their homes after a record 534 millimeters or 21 inches of rain fell over the region in 24 hours, forcing surging rivers over their banks into whatever lay in their path.

It's the most rain recorded in central Japan or the Tokai region since records were first taken more than a century ago and the product of a slow-moving and large typhoon near the Japanese archipelago, coupled with a seasonal rain front.

JOUSUKE ICHIZAWA, METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY (through translator): The Tokai area has experienced historic heavy rains far exceeding past records.

KAMIMURA: Train, air and road traffic on the bus route between Tokyo and Japan's second largest city of Osaka was also severely hampered due to power failures and the unprecedented amount of rain.

(on camera): Fifty-two thousand passengers spent the night on the world-famous Bullet Train after scores of trains were forced to stop in their tracks or pull into the nearest station. This is one of the first trains out after service was suspended for a record 21 hours.

(voice-over): Thousands of weary passengers like this woman who spent a night in a bus.

"I could not sleep at all last night," she says, "since the bus was so narrow. I have already missed two trains, and I have no idea when I can go home."

Not just flooding, but mudslides, too, destroyed buildings, forcing authorities at one point to advise those living in 190,000 households to head for public shelters.

The typhoon is projected to move westward and away from Japan's main islands, but forecasters say heavy rains will continue pelting wide areas of Japan as the rains move eastward.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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