9 die in flooded nursing home as storm pounds Japan

A house being swept down a river in the town of Shimizu in Hokkaido prefecture yesterday after Typhoon Lionrock struck overnight.
A house being swept down a river in the town of Shimizu in Hokkaido prefecture yesterday after Typhoon Lionrock struck overnight.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Surging flood waters and mud brought by a powerful tropical storm killed nine people in an elderly care home in northern Japan, after the third storm in two weeks ripped through the country.

The bodies were discovered in a riverside care complex half-buried in mud, uprooted trees and rubble after Typhoon Lionrock tore through the region, dumping torrential rain over a wide area, said officials yesterday.

Typhoon Lionrock was downgraded to a tropical storm by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre just before it made landfall at around 6pm local time on Tuesday in Japan's north-east region of Tohoku.

Footage from public broadcaster NHK showed a helicopter hovering over the building in Iwaizumi on the island of Honshu, as rescuers tried to pluck other stranded residents to safety.

The nine were the only people in that building, he said.

The Japan Times reported that it had been learnt that the Iwaizumi municipal government failed to issue a flood warning for the Omoto River, which swelled rapidly and overflowed by 7pm on Tuesday. Water levels eventually reached 6.6m.

Media reports said the building was reserved for people with dementia, and another 86 elderly residents and employees were in ano- ther building at the time.

The death toll from the powerful storm rose to 11 after an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded home nearby, and another body was discovered not far from the nursing home, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Iwate, the worst-hit prefecture, was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

In Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands, one person who had been inside a car was missing in the town of Taiki, police and government officials said.

At least three cars fell into rivers in other towns on the island after bridges collapsed, they said, stressing it was not known how many people were inside the vehicles.

Lionrock's path - hitting north-eastern Japan from the Pacific Ocean - was unusual.

Typhoons usually approach Japan from the south and south-west before moving northwards across the archipelago.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline '9 die in flooded nursing home as storm pounds Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe