Ja­pan looks for miss­ing after ty­phoon, warns of mud­slides

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

TOKYO (AFP) — Tens of thou­sands of res­cue work­ers in Ja­pan bat­tled on Mon­day to find sur­vivors of a pow­er­ful ty­phoon that killed at least 43 peo­ple, as fresh rain threat­ened to ham­per ef­forts.

Ty­phoon Hag­ibis crashed into the coun­try on Satur­day night, un­leash­ing high winds and tor­ren­tial rain across 36 of the coun­try’s 47 pre­fec­tures, and trig­ger­ing land­slides and cat­a­strophic flood­ing.

“Even now, many peo­ple are still un­ac­counted for in the dis­as­ter-hit area,” Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe told an emer­gency dis­as­ter meet­ing on Mon­day.

“Units are try­ing their best to search for and res­cue them, work­ing day and night,” Abe said.

But even as res­cuers, in­clud­ing troops, combed through de­bris, the coun­try’s weather agency fore­cast rain in cen­tral and eastern Ja­pan that it warned could cause fur­ther flood­ing and new land­slides.

“I would like to ask peo­ple to stay fully vig­i­lant and con­tinue watch­ing for land­slides and river flood­ing,” Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga told a news con­fer­ence.

In Nagano, one of the worst-hit re­gions, rain was al­ready fall­ing and was ex­pect to in­ten­sify.

“We are con­cerned about the im­pact of the lat­est rain on res­cue and re­cov­ery ef­forts,” lo­cal of­fi­cial Hiroki Ya­m­aguchi told AFP.

“We will con­tinue op­er­a­tions while watch­ing out for sec­ondary dis­as­ters due to the cur­rent rain.”

By late Mon­day af­ter­noon, na­tional broad­caster NHK said the toll had risen to 43 dead, with 16 oth­ers miss­ing and over 200 peo­ple in­jured. The gov­ern­ment gave lower fig­ures but was con­tin­u­ing to up­date its in­for­ma­tion.

The dead in­cluded a mu­nic­i­pal worker whose car was over­come by flood­wa­ters and at least seven crew from a cargo ship that sank in Tokyo Bay on Satur­day night, a coast guard spokesman said.

Four oth­ers, from China, Myan­mar and Viet­nam, were res­cued when the boat sank and the coast guard was still search­ing for a last crew mem­ber.

While Hag­ibis, one of the most pow­er­ful storms to hit the Tokyo area in decades, packed wind gusts of up to 216 kilo­me­ters (134 miles) per hour, it was the heavy rains that caused most dam­age.

A to­tal of 142 rivers flooded, mainly in eastern and north­ern Ja­pan, with river banks col­laps­ing in two dozen places, lo­cal me­dia said.

In cen­tral Nagano, a levee breach sent wa­ter from the Chikuma river gush­ing into res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods, flood­ing homes up to the sec­ond floor.

As wa­ter slowly re­ceded Mon­day, tele­vi­sion footage showed pa­tients be­ing trans­ferred by am­bu­lance from a Nagano hos­pi­tal where some 200 peo­ple had been cut off by flood­ing.

Else­where, res­cuers used he­li­copters to winch sur­vivors from roofs and bal­conies, or steered boats through muddy waters to reach those trapped.

By Mon­day af­ter­noon, some 75,900 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 Nagano told NHK.

“I feel lucky I’m still alive.”

The storm brought travel chaos over the hol­i­day week­end, ground­ing flights and halt­ing com­muter 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.

AFP-Yonhap

Ja­pan Self-De­fense Forces evac­u­ate res­i­dents from a flooded area dur­ing search and res­cue op­er­a­tions in the af­ter­math of Ty­phoon Hag­ibis in Maru­mori, Miyagi pre­fec­ture, Mon­day.

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