Typhoon Hagibis, at least 23 dead, 16 missing

13 October 2019, Sun
Published: 05:58

Typhoon Hagibis, at least 23 dead, 16 missing

Japan has sent tens of thousands of troops and rescue workers 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.

Sixteen people are missing, power has been cut for almost half a million households. 

More than 120 people were injured as many areas were hit by record amounts of rainfall and violent winds, according to national broadcaster NHK. Officials urged residents to be on alert with evacuation orders remaining for about 5.9 million people across 17 prefectures, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The heavy rain destroyed river banks throughout Japan -- most seriously the Chikuma River in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. Houses were flooded in the area, with NHK showing footage of collapsed bridges and residents being rescued by helicopter from rooftops.

Typhoon Hagibis, the biggest storm to hit Japan in decades, had moved away from the island by Sunday morning. It has been downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the Japan Metereorological Agency. At its peak, Hagibis was packing winds of up to 252 kilometres per hour.

More than 420,000 buildings across the country have lost electricity due to the typhoon, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a total of eight local governments, including Tokyo and Nagano, have requested assistance from the country's Self-Defense Forces.

The government will send Ryota Takeda, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, to Nagano prefecture and Land Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba to Saitama prefecture, Suga said.

Across Japan, more than 800 domestic flights had been cancelled for Sunday as of early morning, according to NHK. The area around Tokyo worked to return to normal on Sunday morning.

Heavy rain and flood warnings were lifted, and subways and most train services in the region resumed operations, NHK said. Bullet-train service heading west from the capital also was restored, according to Central Japan Railway.

Tokyo Disneyland planned to resume operations at noon after closing on Saturday.

Rugby World Cup organisers decided to go ahead with three out of four games scheduled for Sunday, including a closely watched contest between Japan and Scotland.

The match between Canada and Namibia was called off amid safety concerns following torrential rains that caused flooding and landslides around the venue in northern Japan.

In addition to the Japan-Scotland game, matches pitting the US against Tonga and Wales versus Uruguay will proceed, organisers said.