Japan bolsters rescue operations after Hagibis wreaks havoc
More than 110,000 people will start rescue and cleanup operations in the wake of the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in decades that left at least 40 people dead
Tokyo — Japan is sending more than 110,000 people including its Self-Defence Forces to tackle rescue and cleanup operations in the wake of the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in decades that left at least 40 people dead.
Police, firefighters and the coast guard are also participating in the rescue efforts, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference on Monday.
More than 180 people were injured and 16 are missing as many areas were hit by record amounts of rainfall and violent winds, national broadcaster NHK reports.
At least 48 landslides and mudflows have been reported in 12 prefectures, and nine rivers burst their banks, Kyodo news reported, citing the ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.
The heavy rain destroyed river banks in central and northern Japan — most seriously the Chikuma River in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. Houses were flooded in the area, with NHK showing footage of collapsed bridges and residents being rescued from rooftops by helicopter.
Typhoon Hagibis moved away from the island by Sunday morning and was downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. At its peak, Hagibis was packing winds of up to 252km/h.
Nine local governments, including Tokyo and Nagano, have requested assistance from the country’s Self-Defence Forces. Defence minister Taro Kono tweeted that a total force of 31,000 troops was formed and about 40 aircraft are in operation to help residents.
Domestic flights were mostly operating normally on Monday, though there were some delays. More than 800 flights in Japan were cancelled for Sunday as of early morning.
The economic impact from the storm has yet to be determined as companies were forced to suspend operations at stores and factories. Honda Motor shut down four factories, the Nikkei newspaper reported Saturday. Toyota Motor, Nippon Steel and Sapporo Holdings also suspended operations at some plants.
JXTG Holdings’ Negishi refinery suspended shipping after flooding caused problems to its equipment, but operations are expected to resume today, according to a ministry of economy, trade and industry statement. The ministry also said that about 92,000 households are without power.
Convenience stores closed temporarily due to power outages and flood damage. FamilyMart said about 50 stores were shut. Other retailers, including Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, resumed operations on Sunday after closing six department stores in the Tokyo area on Saturday.
NTT Docomo said its mobile services are temporarily unavailable or operating on a limited basis in certain areas due to the storm, and the company is working to restore normal services. Mobile services of KDDI and SoftBank were also having problems, the ministry of internal affairs and communications said on Sunday.
Tokyo Disneyland is operating as usual on Monday, a public holiday in Japan, after closing on Saturday.
Rugby World Cup organisers decided to go ahead with three out of four games scheduled for Sunday, including a closely watched contest between Japan and Scotland.
The match between Canada and Namibia was called off amid safety concerns after torrential rains that caused flooding and landslides around the venue in northern Japan. In addition to the Japan-Scotland game, matches pitting the US against Tonga and Wales vs Uruguay went ahead, organisers said.
With Hiroyuki Sekine
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