Japan typhoon death toll rises to 67 as hopes for missing fade

A woman cries in relief after being rescued from an area flooded by Typhoon Hagibis in Marumori, Miyagi prefecture, on Oct 14, 2019.
A woman cries in relief after being rescued from an area flooded by Typhoon Hagibis in Marumori, Miyagi prefecture, on Oct 14, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Fire brigade personnel pump water from a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 15, 2019.
Fire brigade personnel pump water from a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 15, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A flooded convenience store is seen in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.
A flooded convenience store is seen in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Rescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.
Rescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Residents walk through a typhoon-affected area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.
Residents walk through a typhoon-affected area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, on Oct 14, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Flooded homes beside the collapsed bank of the Chikuma river in Nagano, on Oct 13, 2019.
Flooded homes beside the collapsed bank of the Chikuma river in Nagano, on Oct 13, 2019.PHOTO: AFP
A flooded depot with Shinkansen bullet trains in Nagano, on Oct 13, 2019, in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis.
A flooded depot with Shinkansen bullet trains in Nagano, on Oct 13, 2019, in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - The death toll in the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 67 on Tuesday (Oct 15) as rescuers slogged through mud and debris in an increasingly grim search for the missing and as thousands of homes remained without power or water.

The storm hit a wide swathe of central and eastern Japan, with 15 missing and some 211 injured nearly three days after Typhoon Hagibis - whose name means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog - lashed Japan with high winds and intense rains, NHK national broadcaster said.

Some 138,000 households were without water while 24,000 lacked electricity, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands without power just after the storm but cause for concern in northern areas where the weather was starting to turn chilly.

The highest toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the agricultural prefecture.

At least 18 died in Fukushima, including a mother who was caught up in flood waters with her two children, one of whose death was confirmed on Monday while the other, a little boy, remained missing.

Thousands of police, fire officials and military personnel continued to search for people who may have been cut off by flood waters and landslides set off by the storm, with hope diminishing that the missing would be found alive.

Survivors described how waters rose rapidly to chest height in roughly an hour and mainly at night, making it hard to escape to higher ground. Many of the dead in Fukushima were elderly, NHK said.

"I couldn't believe it, the water came up so fast," one man in Fukushima told NHK.

 

Major highways remained closed in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture as people began commuting to their first day of work after the storm and a long weekend.

Children in uniforms walked to school and while some stores remained closed, others were open.

Around the nation, manufacturers took stock.

Electronics maker Panasonic Corp said flooding had damaged its plant in a large industrial park in Koriyama. Automakers Nissan, Honda and Subaru said there was no major damage to their factories, while Toyota said all its plants were operating normally.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the economic impact could be prolonged.

"The national government will continue to do everything possible so that the victims of this disaster can return to their normal lives as soon as possible," Abe told a parliamentary committee.

He also said that evacuation centres should welcome all disaster victims, after two homeless people had been refused entry at the weekend in Tokyo as the capital braced for the typhoon.

"Evacuation centres should let anyone in who has come to evacuate,. We will look into the facts and take appropriate measures.”

Staff at an evacuation centre in Tokyo’s Taito ward turned two homeless people away on Saturday because they did not have an address, a ward official told Reuters.

The staff told them that the shelter was only meant for ward residents.

"We will consider how to support people without an address in these situations by looking at other local authorities’ cases and by taking in various views," Taito ward spokesman Shunsuke Tabata said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Taro Aso said there was 500 billion yen (S$6.32 billion) in reserves for disaster recovery and more money would be considered if needed.

Thousands of police, fire officials and military personnel continued to search for people who may have been cut off by flood waters and landslides, with hope diminishing that the missing would be found alive.

Though the threat of rain is expected to diminish on Tuesday, temperatures are likely to drop in many areas later this week, in some cases to unseasonably low levels, NHK said.

Four of Japan’s major refiners said there was no impact on their refinery operations from the storm.