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Up to 35 dead as Typhoon Hagibis slams Japan

TOKYO: Tens of thousands of rescuers worked through the pre-dawn hours on Monday (Oct 14) to reach people trapped by landslides and floods in Japan caused by a powerful typhoon that has killed up to 35, officials and local media said.

Typhoon Hagibis moved away from land on Sunday morning, but while it largely spared the capital, it left a trail of destruction in surrounding regions.

More than 110,000 rescuers - including 31,000 troops - clawed through debris overnight Sunday to Monday to reach people trapped after torrential rain caused landslides and filled rivers until they burst their banks.

The destruction forced the Rugby World Cup being hosted by Japan to cancel several games, but the "Brave Blossoms", as the national team is known, lifted spirits with a stunning 28-21 victory over Scotland on Sunday that puts them into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.

The government put the death toll at 14, with 11 people missing, but local media said at least 35 people had been killed, and at least 11 were still unaccounted for.

Rivers overflowed their banks at close to dozen locations - including in central Japan's Nagano, where a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima one rescue went tragically awry when a woman died after falling from a chopper cradle.


Elsewhere, rescue workers carried out an hours-long boat operation to evacuate hundreds of people from a retirement home in Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, which was flooded up to its top floor.

One elderly woman wearing an orange life vest was brought out from a boat on the back of a hard-hat wearing rescuer. Others were hoisted onto wheelchairs and pushed along a muddy shore on arrival by boat.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu on Saturday night as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216kmh.

 

'PLEASE DO YOUR BEST'

Rescue efforts were continuing on Monday morning, with local television showing soldiers rowing a rubber rescue dingy through floodwaters in Fukushima, while elsewhere workers removed dirt with a digger.

The storm claimed its first victim even before making landfall, when high winds flipped a vehicle, killing its driver.

Landslides and flooding took more lives overnight, and the toll climbed higher after sunrise on Sunday, as the scale of the devastation wrought by Hagibis became clear.

 

Bodies were retrieved from submerged homes and vehicles, from raging overflowing rivers, and from buildings buried in landslides.

 

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and at least five Chinese crew members aboard a boat that sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night.

"Twelve crew were on board. Five Chinese have been found dead," a coastguard official told AFP.

He said four other crew, from China, Myanmar and Vietnam, had been rescued and search operations resumed at daybreak for the remaining three members.

"We plan to dispatch 11 boats, two helicopters and a dozen divers to the site. We are trying our best," he added.

 

"The government will do its utmost," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

"Please do your best," he told a disaster management meeting.

At the storm's peak, more than seven million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders.

The storm prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue its highest-level rain disaster warning, saying "unprecedented" downpours were expected.

'I DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START'

On Monday morning, some 57,500 households remained without power, with 120,000 experiencing water outages.

The disaster left tens of thousands of people in shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.

"Everything from my house was washed away before my eyes, I wasn't sure if it was a dream or real," a woman in Nagoya told national broadcaster NHK.

"I feel lucky I'm still alive."

 

"The water came up higher than my head in the house," Hajime Tokuda, a finance professional living in Kawasaki near Tokyo told AFP.

He moved to his family's home nearby, but that flooded too and they had to be rescued by boat.

 

image: data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==

Rescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floodRescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, Oct 14, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon)

 

In Saitama's Higashi Matsuyama city, northwest of Tokyo, rice and flower farmers were counting their losses, with water submerging warehouses full of freshly harvested produce.

"We never had a flood like this before in this neighbourhood," said one farmer, who declined to give his name.

"I don't know where to start cleaning this mess."

 

image: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/image/11997522/0x0/614/768/b29ba07802d69ac3759e4a7993ccdada/qx/rescue-workers-in-japan-used-boats-and-helicopters-to-reach-people-trapped-after-typhoon-hagibis-1571019553419-6.jpg

Rescue workers in Japan used boats and helicopters to reach people trapped after Typhoon HagibisRescue workers in Japan used boats and helicopters to reach people trapped after Typhoon Hagibis. (Photo: AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi)

 

The storm brought travel chaos during a long holiday weekend in Japan, grounding flights and halting local and bullet train services.

By Monday, most subway trains had resumed service, along with many bullet train lines, and flights had also restarted.

The storm also brought havoc to the sporting world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancellation of three Rugby World Cup matches.

But a crucial decider pitting Japan against Scotland went ahead, with the hosts dedicating their win to the victims of the disaster.

 

image: data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==

typhoon trainRows of Japan's bullet trains, parked in a facility, sit in a pool of water in Nagano, central Japan, after Typhoon Hagibis hit the city. (Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

 

"To everyone that's suffering from the typhoon, this game was for you guys," said Japan captain Michael Leitch.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Sunday said that he was "saddened by reports of loss of life and extensive destruction" caused by Hagibis, and extended his "deep condolences to the families of the victims".

 

SOURCE: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/japan-typhoon-hagibis-dead-injured-troops-floods-11997244

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