Japan has sent tens of thousands of troops and rescue workers to save stranded residents and fight floods caused by one of the worst typhoons to hit the country in recent history, which killed 23 people, Reuters news agency has said.
Typhoon Hagibis — which means “speed” in the Philippine language, Tagalog —was the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in six decades.
It paralysed the capital, Tokyo, and surrounding areas, causing rivers to overflow and leaving almost half a million homes without power. public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday.
Rescue efforts were in full force, with troops, boats and helicopters deployed to the flooded areas, as rescue crew dug through dirt in other areas to try to get people out from homes buried by landslides.
Hagibis made landfall on the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7pm (10:00 GMT) on Saturday, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hour. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook Tokyo shortly after.
By yesterday morning, the significantly weakened storm had moved back off land and was expected to head out to sea in the evening after churning its way along the northern island of Hokkaido.
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 yesterday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency meeting of relevant ministers and dispatched the minister in charge of disaster management to the worst-hit areas.
He offered condolences to the families of those who died and said the government was working to save people’s lives and property.
“The government will do everything in its power to cooperate with relevant agencies to restore services as soon as possible,” said Abe.
Some 27 000 members of Japan’s self-defence forces as well as firefighters, police and coast guard members were sent to rescue stranded people in central Japan’s Nagano prefecture and elsewhere, the government said. — Al Jazeera