Asia

Japan sends in thousands of troops after Typhoon Hagibis hammers Tokyo

TOKYO: Japan sent tens of thousands of troops and rescue workers on Sunday (Oct 13) to save stranded residents and fight floods caused by one of the worst typhoons to hit the country in recent history, which killed 23 people and briefly paralysed Tokyo.

There were also 16 people missing, public broadcaster NHK said, as Typhoon Hagibis left vast swaths of low-lying land in central and eastern Japan inundated and cut power to almost half a million homes.

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Landing restrictions at Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports were lifted but more than 800 flights were cancelled for the day, NHK said, as were some Shinkansen bullet train services to the worst-hit areas.

Authorities lifted rain warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo, where stores reopened and many train lines resumed operations, but they warned there was still the risk of rivers in eastern Japan overflowing and inflicting fresh damage.

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)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency meeting and sent the minister in charge of disaster management to the affected areas.

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"I extend my condolences for all those who lost their lives and offer my sympathy to all those impacted by Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis)," Abe said.

"With respect to blackouts, water outage and suspension of transportation services, we intend to exert all-out efforts for the earliest recovery … we ask the public to remain vigilant of landslides and other hazards," he said.

READ: Typhoon Hagibis – Tokyo, central Japan left devastated

Some 27,000 members of Japan's self-defence forces as well as firefighters, police and coast guard members were sent to rescue stranded people in central Japan's Nagano prefecture and elsewhere, the government said.

Some came in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes.

NHK said the full extent of the widespread damage was only beginning to emerge because many areas remained under water.

Damaged houses caused by weather patterns from Typhoon Hagibis are seen in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture on October 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Jiji Press)

Some 425,000 homes were without power, the government said, reviving fears of a repeat of the weeks-long power outages suffered after another typhoon hit east of Tokyo last month.

In Fukushima, north of the capital, Tokyo Electric Power Co reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant overnight. The plant was crippled by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tepco spokeswoman Emi Iwasa said the typhoon triggered 11 leak alerts at the plant. Of those, eight were confirmed as being triggered by rainwater and the rest were still being investigated. Iwasa said the operator had so far not confirmed if any radioactive water leaked into sea.

FLOODS, LANDSLIDES

Hagibis, which means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu on Saturday evening and headed out to sea early on Sunday, leaving behind cloudless skies and high temperatures across the country.

NHK showed fields and vast residential areas in parts of central and eastern Japan covered in brown water, with some of the worst damage caused by Chikuma river in Nagano prefecture.

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

READ: Japan's capital braces for what could be worst typhoon in 60 years

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

Military helicopters airlifted stranded people from homes near the river, some cradling their children, after they were trapped by water reaching the roofs of their houses.

The first floor of a large aged care home in Nagano city was shown under water.

Rescuers took residents from another flooded aged care facility by inflatable boats and carried them on their backs to safety.

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)

They also searched for survivors in homes destroyed in landslides near Tokyo's suburbs and in Fukushima prefecture, NHK showed.

"GREAT IMPACT"

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 a Chinese crew member aboard a boat that sank overnight in Tokyo Bay.

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

"We continue to see a great impact on people's life," Mr Abe said.

"The government will do its utmost," he added, pledging to deploy more troops and emergency officials if needed.

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

Authorities at one point issued evacuation advisories and orders for more than 6 million people across Japan as the Read More – Source

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