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Typhoon Hagibis tears across Japan

October 13, 2019

Hagibis has slammed into Japan, killing at least 30 people and triggering landslides and floods. Several people have been reported missing, while hundreds of thousands of homes were without power.

Typhoon Hagibis has led to mass flooding in Japan
Image: Reuters/Kyodo

Local media have reported at least 30 people dead, at least another 16 missing, and more than 170 injured on Sunday after Typhoon Hagibis tore across Japan. The government has put the death toll at 14.

The storm — one of the most powerful tropical cyclones to ever hit the country — unleashed heavy rain and winds, paralyzing the capital, Tokyo, and prompting authorities to issue noncompulsory evacuation orders to more than 6 million people.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that around 120 people had suffered injuries, while more than a dozen remained unaccounted for. Initially, almost half a million homes lost power and by late afternoon local time on Sunday, almost 200,000 remained in this predicament.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered condolences to the families of those who died and said the government was working to save lives.

"The government will do everything in its power to cooperate with relevant agencies to restore services as soon as possible," Abe said. 

Read moreTyphoon Faxai wreaks havoc in Tokyo

A car is about to plunge into a raging torrent after a road collapse
Dangerously heavy rain caused landslides and flooding in some areasImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Kyodo

Rescue efforts underway

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said 27,000 troops and other emergency crews had been deployed to rescue those stranded in flood-hit areas. Military helicopters were also involved in search efforts.

"The major typhoon has caused immense damage far and wide in eastern Japan," Suga said.

A rescue worker wearing a helmet and snorkel swims through a flooded residential area
A rescue worker searches for survivors in a flooded residential neighborhood Image: Reuters//Kim Kyung-Hoon

At its peak, the typhoon caused widespread chaos in and around Tokyo, forcing the suspension of train services and the cancellation of more than a thousand flights.  

Wind gusts of up to 216 kilometers per hour (134 miles per hour) lashed parts of the country, while unrelenting rainfall caused several rivers to break their banks.  

Three Rugby World Cup matches were also canceled, while qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit, was postponed. 

People hold their umbrellas tight as a strong wind blows in Osaka
Image: picture alliance/AP Images/Yomiuri Shimbun

Hagibis, which means "speed" in Filipino, made landfall southwest of Tokyo at around 7 p.m. local time (1000 UTC) on Saturday. It was expected to weaken and move out to sea late Sunday.

It comes just weeks after another powerful storm, Typhoon Faxai,  resulted in two deaths and dozens of injuries in the city of Chiba. 

Japan is battered by approximately 20 typhoons per year, but it is rare for Tokyo to be affected.

The Japanese government has said that Hagibis could be the worst storm to hit the capital since 1958, when a typhoon resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and flooded 500,000 homes.

nm, jsi/bk (AFP, AP)

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