Typhoon Hagibis slams Japan, 14 dead

KAWAGOE, Japan — At least 14 people were killed and nine others missing after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, officials said Sunday, as rescuers scrambled to reach people trapped by catastrophic flooding.

The storm’s “unprecedented” heavy rain triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks. The destruction forced Rugby World Cup organizers to cancel a third match though the key Japan-Scotland clash will go ahead.

By Sunday morning, the significantly weakened storm had moved back off land, but serious flooding was reported in several areas, including central Japan’s Nagano, where a burst levee sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighborhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Japan’s military deployed 27,000 troops to aid rescue operations, including some in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes in Nagano.

In Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, rescue workers in boats were evacuating elderly people from a retirement home that was heavily flooded in the storm.

One woman wearing an orange life vest clutched at rescue workers in hardhats as the boat moved through the muddy floodwaters.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7:00 pm (1000 GMT) Saturday as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour).

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

Landslides and flooding claimed more lives overnight, and the toll climbed higher after sunrise on Sunday, as the scale of the devastation wrought by Hagibis became clear.

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.

The government said at least nine people were missing and more than 140 injured in the storm.

“We continue to see a great impact on people’s life,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

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