At least 19 dead and many missing after powerful typhoon Hagibis hits northern Japan

An aerial photo shows a shinkansen rail yard in Nagano partially submerged following flooding caused by Typhoon Hagibis. | KYODO

An aerial photo shows a shinkansen rail yard in Nagano partially submerged following flooding caused by Typhoon Hagibis. | KYODO

The SDF deployed helicopters to rescue people seen standing on balconies waving towels to attract attention.

“Overnight, we issued evacuation orders to 427 households, 1,417 individuals,” Yasuhiro Yamaguchi, an emergency official in the city of Nagano said, adding that it was unclear how many homes had been affected.

Aerial footage showed a row of bullet trains half-submerged in muddy waters at a depot in Nagano.

In Chiba, which was hit by widespread power outages in September due to another strong typhoon, over 95,000 houses were without power as of 1 p.m., according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. More than 70,000 other homes elsewhere in its service area were affected by power outages.

Tohoku Electric Power Co., serving northeastern Japan, said over 18,000 homes were without electricity.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7 p.m. Saturday as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometers per hour (134 miles per hour).

Well before making landfall, the outer bands of the storm claimed their first victim, a driver whose van was flipped over in the strong gusts.
Several more deaths were confirmed Saturday night, including a man killed in a landslide and another pulled from a flooded home.

And the toll continued to rise as the full scale of the disaster became clearer Sunday morning, with bodies recovered from submerged cars and landslides across several regions of the country.

A man takes a picture of the Tama river, which reached flood risk level Saturday night. | REUTERS

A man takes a picture of the Tama river, which reached flood risk level Saturday night. | REUTERS

Many rivers, including the Chikuma, the Tama in Tokyo and the Abukuma in Fukushima, were flooded by the typhoon.

In Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, the Tama River overflowed, flooding nearby roads, while the Abukuma River overflowed in the city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture.

The Meteorological Agency issued special heavy rain warnings to 13 prefectures, including Tokyo, from Saturday to early Sunday. All of the special alerts were lifted in stages.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened emergency meeting of relevant ministers and dispatched the minister in charge of disaster management to the worst-hit areas. He offered condolences to the families of those who died and said the government was working to save people’s lives and property.

“The government will do everything in its power to cooperate with relevant agencies to restore services as soon as possible,” said Abe. The government has also set up a task force to deal with the damage, public broadcaster NHK reported.

NHK said at least 99 people had been injured and more than a dozen were missing after the storm.

Among the missing were eight people from a cargo ship that sank Saturday night in Tokyo Bay. The coast guard said they had rescued five of the Panama-flagged ship’s crew, but one of them was later confirmed dead. They were still searching for the others.

The storm also brought travel chaos during a long holiday weekend in Japan, with flights grounded and both local and bullet trains serving Tokyo suspended fully or partially. Some railway services in the Tokyo metropolitan area resumed Sunday morning and afternoon.

East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, restarted operations of the Yamanote Line around 9:30 a.m. The company initially planned to bring the loop line in central Tokyo back into service around noon, but moved up the schedule after confirming the safety of its facilities.

JR East also resumed services on the Yokohama Line, the Chuo rapid and Sobu local lines, and other lines in the morning while deciding to continue suspending operations of such lines as the Keihin-Tohoku, Saikyo, Takasaki and Musashino lines until Sunday evening.

Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Tokai, restarted the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Trains on the line were slowing down on some sections, leading to delays, according to the company.

The Joetsu Shinkansen Line was put back into service shortly before 10 a.m., according to JR East officials. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen when the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line will resume operations, the officials said.

At the storm’s peak, more than 7 million people were placed under noncompulsory evacuation orders, with tens of thousands heeding the call and moving into government shelters.

The Meteorological Agency issued its highest-level rain disaster warning, saying “unprecedented” downpours were expected.

“The water came up higher than my head in the house,” said Hajime Tokuda, a finance professional living in Kawasaki near Tokyo.

He moved to his family’s home nearby, but that flooded too and they had to be rescued by boat.

In Saitama’s Higashi-Matsuyama, northwest of Tokyo, rice and flower farmers were counting their losses, with water submerging warehouses full of freshly harvested product.

“We never had a flood like this before in this neighborhood,” said one farmer, who declined to give his name. “We cannot even go into the flower warehouse due to the water. I don’t know where to start cleaning this mess.”

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.

Train operators restarted some bullet train services on Sunday, while a handful of train and subway lines in Tokyo that had been down for most of Saturday were slowly restarting. Usually bustling entertainment and shopping districts such as Shibuya and Ginza were deserted.

The storm had already caused havoc for the sports world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancellation of two Saturday Rugby World Cup matches.

On Sunday morning, organizers said they had been forced to cancel a third fixture — Namibia-Canada — but gave the go-ahead to three others including a crunch Japan-Scotland game in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Scotland faced elimination if the match was canceled and had threatened legal action if it was not played.

Kenneth from the Donegal Weather Channel

Kenneth from the Donegal Weather Channel.

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