Typhoon Hagibis: Tokyo, central Japan left devastated

Typhoon Hagibis: Tokyo, central Japan left devastated

Houses are submerged after Typhoon Hagibis hit the area in Ashikaga, north of Tokyo, Japan
Houses are submerged after Typhoon Hagibis hit the area in Ashikaga, north of Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Oct 13, 2019. (Photo: Takuya Inaba/Kyodo News via AP

TOKYO: Eleven people were killed and 15 were missing after the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in decades paralysed Tokyo, flooding rivers and putting millions under evacuation warning before it plowed up the northeastern coast.

Authorities lifted rain and flood warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo before dawn but imposed them on areas further north after Typhoon Hagibis blasted through the capital.

Four deaths were reported in Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa and Fukushima prefectures surrounding Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK. Among them was a man in his 60s who was found with no vital signs in a flooded apartment in Kawasaki, NHK said. 

Attention focused on Fukushima, where Tokyo Electric Power Co overnight reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In parts of Fukushima and Nagano prefectures, heavy rain caused rivers to flood their banks, submerging houses and rice paddies and forcing some people to climb onto their roofs for safety.

Houses along the Chikuma river in Nagano were nearly under water and at least one person was rescued from the roof of a house by helicopter, NHK said. Part of a road was swept away in flooding.

A boat patrol searches a residential area flooded by Typhoon Hagibis.
Rescue efforts are underway in Japan for people people trapped in submerged houses in Tokyo and central Japan after the region was hit by Typhoon Hagibis on Saturday Oct 12, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Authorities issued evacuation advisories and orders for more than 6 million people across Japan as the storm unleashed the heaviest rain and winds in years. Some 100 injuries have been reported so far, while more than 270,000 households lost power, NHK said.

The storm, which the government said could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958, brought record-breaking rainfall in many areas, including the popular resort town of Hakone, which was hit with 939.5 mm (37 inches) of rain over 24 hours.

READ: Typhoon Hagibis kills 11 in Japan as rescue efforts intensify

Hagibis, which means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu on Saturday evening. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook Tokyo shortly after.

Major shinkansen bullet trains from Tokyo would begin on schedule Sunday, NHK said, while the Tokyo subway system was also operating.

Bullet trains are seen submerged in muddy waters in Nagano, central Japan
Bullet trains are seen submerged in muddy waters in Nagano, central Japan, after Typhoon Hagibis hit the city, Sunday, Oct 13, 2019. (Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

Houses, cars and power poles were destroyed as Typhoon Haigibis approaches Tokyo
Destroyed houses, cars and power poles, which according to local media were believed to be caused by a tornado, are seen as Typhoon Hagibis approaches the Tokyo area in Ichihara, east of Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo October 12, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

One expert, Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, director of the Japan Riverfront Research Center, had earlier told Reuters that further flooding could occur as several surrounding prefectures began releasing water from dams, letting it flow downstream.

About 1.5 million people in Tokyo live below sea level.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 prefectures, warning of potential for once in decades rain totals. It lifted the alerts early Sunday.

Just last month, another strong storm, Typhoon Faxai, destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses in Chiba, east of Tokyo, and caused extensive power outages.


Japan's national rugby union team players wade through floodwater at Chichibunomiya Stadium
Japan's national rugby union team players wade through floodwater at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo, Japan October 12, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. JRFU via REUTERS

READ: Magnitude 5.7 earthquake strikes off Japan's Chiba prefecture

The capital's main airports, Haneda and Narita, stopped flights from landing and connecting trains were suspended, forcing the cancellation of more than a thousand flights.

Many people in and around Tokyo took shelter in temporary evacuation facilities early, before the worst of the storm arrived.

Yuka Ikemura, a 24-year-old nursery school teacher, was in one such facility at a community center in eastern Tokyo with her 3-year-old son, 8-month-old daughter and their pet rabbit.

Spectators who evacuate from Typhoon Hagibis, gather at a makeshift accommodation
Spectators who evacuate from Typhoon Hagibis, gather at a makeshift accommodation for spectators of Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji

She said she decided to move before it was too late.

"I've got small children to take care of and we live on the first floor of an old apartment," Ikemura told Reuters.

"We brought with us the bare necessities. I'm scared to think about when we will have run out diapers and milk."

The Rugby World Cup match between Namibia and Canada on Sunday in Kamaishi was cancelled. Two matches were cancelled on Saturday.

Formula One Grand Prix organisers had cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday. 

Source: Agencies/mn

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