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Typhoon Hagibis kills 11 in Japan, rescue underway with up to 100 missing

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Japan’s military is racing to help people trapped by flooding after powerful Typhoon Hagibis as it ripped across the country. So far at least 11 people have died and dozens remain missing.

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

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

Japan’s military have 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 Nagano city, told AFP, 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.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7pm (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).

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.

National broadcaster NHK reports 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 four of the Panama-flagged ship’s crew but were still searching for the others.

At the storm’s peak, more than seven million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders, with tens of thousands heeding the call and moving into government shelters. Japan’s 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,” Hajime Tokuda, a finance professional living in Kawasaki near Tokyo told AFP.

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 city, 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 neighbourhood,” 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.”

 

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