Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - Page 1 News List

At least 20 killed in Japan as Hagibis unleashes flooding

AFP, TOKYO

A Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter hovers above homes partially submerged in floodwaters triggered by Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: AP

More than 20 people were killed by Typhoon Hagibis, local media reported yesterday, a day after the ferocious storm slammed into Japan, unleashing unprecedented rain and catastrophic flooding.

More than 100,000 rescuers, including 31,000 troops, were working into the night to reach people trapped after torrential rain caused landslides and filled rivers until they burst their banks.

The destruction forced the Rugby World Cup to cancel a third tournament match, although a key Japan-Scotland fixture was ruled safe to play.

The storm moved off land yesterday morning, and while it largely spared Tokyo, it left a trail of destruction in surrounding regions.

The Japanese government put the death toll at 14 people, with 11 missing, but national broadcaster the Japan Broadcasting Corp reported that 24 people had been killed, with local media reporting 15 were still unaccounted for.

Rivers burst their banks at nearly a dozen locations, including in central Japan’s Nagano, where a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma River gushing into residential neighborhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations. In Iwaki, Fukushima, a rescue went tragically awry when a woman died after falling while she was being winched to safety.

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 powerful typhoons in the past few years, with wind gusts of up to 216kph.

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

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

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

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and two Chinese crew members aboard a boat that sank overnight in Tokyo Bay.

Four of the crew were rescued, but authorities were still searching for another six.

“The government will do its utmost,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, vowing that rescue efforts would run through the night.

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

More than 110,000 homes were still without power by yesterday evening, with others experiencing water outages.

At the storm’s peak, more than 7 million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders, and more than 135,000 people were still in government shelters by yesterday evening.

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