TOKYO >> A strong storm swerved toward Japan’s heavily populated main islands Wednesday after slamming through the southern islands of Okinawa, where it dumped heavy rain, knocked out power and injured at least 32 people. The storm also elevated rainfalls in other areas of the country, leaving two people dead.
Typhoon Neoguri was downgraded to a storm by late Wednesday after losing strength. But it toppled trees, flooded cars and bent railings in Okinawa, which experienced its heaviest rainfall in a half century, according to the Okinawan government.
One of the biggest storms to hit during Japan’s summer, Neoguri was forecast to hit Kyushu island Thursday. Then it could possibly hit the major cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo while traveling across the main island of Honshu.
Kyushu’s Fukuoka prefecture issued warnings for strong winds, high tides and heavy rains, and advised people to stay indoors as much as possible.
In central Japan, rainfalls were elevated by the storm and caused floods and landslides, killing two people. In Fukushima, an 83-year-old man fell into a swollen river and died, while a landslide knocked out a house in Nagano, leaving a family of four underneath debris.
The torrents of rainfall expected could trigger more landslides and floods, and much of eastern Japan was at risk of lightning and tornadoes.
On Okinawa, nearly 6,000 homes were still without power late Wednesday. At the storm’s peak Tuesday, more than 105,000 homes were without electricity.
The Okinawan government raised the injury toll to 32 on Wednesday, from 17 the day before, with two people suffering serious injuries. A man was reported missing from a fishing boat in rough seas off Kyushu to the north.
Neoguri, which means "raccoon dog" in Korean, was just west of Kyushu and moving northward packing sustained winds of 108 kilometers (67 miles) per hour by Wednesday evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Okinawa’s main airport, Naha, reopened Wednesday, although some morning flights were canceled. Spokesman Takumi Higa said no damage had been reported.
Late flights in Kyushu were canceled Wednesday, and additional cancellations were expected as the storm nears.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.