Nearly 60 Bridges, 2,000 Houses Wrecked By Typhoon In North Korea

In a photo taken on September 7, 2020, a man holding an umbrella walks next to the Taedong river during overcast weather brought by Typhoon Haishen in Pyongyang. (Photo by KIM Won Jin / AFP)

 

A typhoon that struck North Korea wrecked nearly 60 bridges and destroyed or inundated more than 2,000 houses, state media reported Wednesday, with leader Kim Jong Un saying the damage had disrupted central planning for the rest of the year.

Typhoon Maysak brought days of heavy downpours to the country’s east coast last week even as the North was still reeling from earlier flooding and typhoon damage, and this week it was followed by Typhoon Haishen.

Maysak “destroyed or inundated” more than 2,000 houses and tens of public buildings in the affected regions, the official KCNA news agency said, while 60 kilometres of roads and 59 bridges collapsed, with over 3,500 metres of railway roadbeds “swept away”.

Natural disasters tend to have a greater impact in the North due to its creaking infrastructure, and the country is vulnerable to flooding as many mountains and hills have long been deforested.

The damage obliged the authorities to “change the direction of our struggle after comprehensively considering the year-end tasks that were underway”, Kim told a top committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, according to KCNA.

It did not give specific details.

– Pyongyang march –

Kim has ordered some 12,000 Pyongyang-based party members to help with recovery efforts in affected rural regions, and they attended a rally on Tuesday before being dispatched.

“We are afraid of nothing,” said Kang Chol Jin, a party member at the event in front of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the giant mausoleum that holds the bodies of Kim’s grandfather and father, the North’s founder Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il.

“We firmly confirm our determination to go to the typhoon-afflicted areas and complete our missions as soon as possible,” Kang added.

Residents cheered and waved flowers as the rally participants marched in uniform through the streets of the capital.

Kim stressed the importance of completing the recovery efforts before next month’s commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party founding on October 10.

Authorities have previously promised to open the Pyongyang General Hospital, currently under construction, on that date, and according to reports preparations are underway for a possible military parade.

It was not clear whether the “change” Kim mentioned was a reference to either of those.

While localised, the typhoon damage is testing the North’s state capacity and resources, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“The political risk to Kim of failing to deliver promised reconstruction may be limited, but an accumulation of economic failures will strain his regime.”

The impoverished country is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its banned weapons programmes.

AFP

Typhoon Hits South Korea After Triggering Landslides In Japan

A general view shows debris washed up at Kagoshima Port in the aftermath of Typhoon Haishen in Kagoshima on September 7, 2020. – Powerful Typhoon Haishen approached South Korea on September 7 after slamming southern Japan with record winds and heavy rains that prompted evacuation warnings for millions.  STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP.

 

A powerful typhoon lashed South Korea on Monday after smashing into southern Japan with record winds and heavy rains that left up to eight people dead or missing.

More than 300,000 households were still without power Monday afternoon after Typhoon Haishen roared past Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, ripping off roofs and dumping half a metre (20 inches) of water in just a day.

Rescue workers were picking through mud and detritus seeking four missing people after a landslide in rural Miyazaki.

Dozens of police officers were on their way to help, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo.

At least one person had been killed by the typhoon, he said, with the causes of another three deaths during the storm not immediately known.

Haishen, which came on the heels of another powerful typhoon, crashed into Okinawa on Saturday and moved northwards throughout Sunday.

Around 1.8 million people were told to seek shelter for fear that the 200-kilometre-per-hour (135-mile-per-hour) winds would wreak havoc on Japan’s wooden housing stock.

By lunchtime on Monday, the storm had moved over South Korea, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and triggering landslides.

Traffic lights and trees were felled in and around Busan, streets were flooded and power was knocked out for around 20,000 homes across the country.

The typhoon cut electricity to Hyundai Motor’s assembly lines in the city of Ulsan, bringing production to a halt for several hours.

Haishen churned its way up the eastern side of the peninsula into the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea, having lost some of its destructive force, but still packing winds of up to 112 kilometres per hour.

The streets of the port city of Sokcho were largely empty, but some residents braved the rain and wind to take photos and marvel at the swell crashing into the harbour wall.

Outside the city, swollen rivers surged through the countryside carrying debris and the occasional fallen tree.

Haishen was forecast to make landfall again in Chongjin, North Hamgyong province in North Korea, at around midnight, according to South Korea’s Meteorological Administration.

Pyongyang’s state media have been on high alert, carrying live broadcasts of the situation, with one showing a reporter driving through a windy, inundated street in Tongchon, Kangwon province.

“Now is the time when we must be on our highest alert,” he said, adding that winds were as powerful as 126 kilometres per hour.

State broadcaster KCTV showed flooded streets and trees shaking from the strong gusts.

North Korea is still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Maysak last week.

Leader Kim Jong Un appeared in state media over the weekend inspecting the damage. He also sacked a top provincial official in South Hamgyong.

He ordered 12,000 ruling party members in Pyongyang to help with recovery efforts, and the official KCNA news agency reported Monday that around 300,000 had responded to his call.

The North’s state media have yet to specify how many people Maysak left missing, injured or dead.

– Hotels full –

In Japan, Typhoon Haishen first made its presence felt on a string of exposed, remote southern islands before sweeping past the Kyushu region.

As it approached Kyushu authorities issued evacuation orders for 1.8 million people, with 5.6 million others told to take precautions.

In some places, residents checked into hotels to shelter from the storm.

Japan converts its municipal buildings and schools into shelters during emergencies, but some people were reluctant to gather in large numbers due to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am worried about coronavirus infections. We’re with small children too, so we did not want other people to see us as big trouble,” an elderly man in Shibushi city told broadcaster NHK after checking in at a local hotel with seven relatives.

The storm forced the cancellation of nearly 550 flights and disrupted train services, the network said.

Many factories also suspended operations, including three plants operated by Toyota.

AFP

Powerful Typhoon Slams Japan With Violent Winds, Heavy Rain

Women walk in heavy rain as Typhoon Haishen hits Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture on September 6, 2020. – Typhoon Haishen began to lash southern Japan on September 6, with officials warning it could bring record rainfall and winds strong enough to snap power line poles and flip cars. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP.

 

A powerful typhoon that officials warned could bring record rains and gusts strong enough to flip cars slammed into southern Japan on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge millions to seek shelter.

Typhoon Haishen has weakened somewhat as it neared Japan’s mainland, and shifted further west out to sea, but it remained a “large” and “extremely strong” storm.

After lashing a string of exposed, remote southern islands, it neared Japan’s Kyushu region on Sunday evening, with authorities issues evacuation advisories for more than seven million residents.

The weather agency urged peoples to exercise “most serious caution” for possible record rain, violent winds, high waves and surging tides.

“Record-level rainfall is expected. It may cause landslides or it could cause even large rivers to flood,” said Yoshihisa Nakamoto, director of the forecast division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, during a televised briefing.

He added that surging tides could cause widespread flooding in low-lying areas, particularly around river mouths.

As the storm passed over several remote islands earlier Sunday, strong winds bent palm trees and sheets of rain lashed the area.

At an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that flooding and landslides were a possibility.

“Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,” he said.

“I ask the Japanese people, including those who live in high-risk areas for flooding rivers or high tides, to stay informed and take action immediately to ensure their safety.”

At 7 pm (1000 GMT), Haishen was located about 100 kilometres (62 miles) south-southwest of Makurazaki city, packing gusts up to 216 kmh (135 miles) — strong enough to overturn vehicles and snap wooden power poles.

The storm was forecast to move north and travel off the western coast of Kyushu before reaching South Korea Monday morning, according to the weather agency.

– Evacuation orders, blackouts –

Authorities issued evacuation orders for 1.8 million people in the affected area, with 5.6 million people issued lower-level advisories, national broadcaster NHK said.

Evacuation orders in Japan are not compulsory, though authorities strongly urge people to follow them.

Local officials asked people to avoid crowded shelters where possible, to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, and some shelters were forced to turn people away in order to have enough space to maintain social distancing.

In some places, residents were checking into local hotels to comply with evacuations advisories.

Hotel Polaris in Shibushi city, Kagoshima, said all 73 of its rooms were sold out for the weekend.

“This is a large building for our area. I think our guests have chosen to stay with us to feel safe,” front desk employee Takayuki Shinmura told AFP, adding that it was unusual for all of the hotel’s rooms to be occupied during typhoons.

Those who sought hotel rooms said the pandemic and discomfort of public shelters were weighing on them.

“I am worried about coronavirus infections. We’re with small children too, so we did not want other people to see us as big trouble,” an elderly man in Shibushi city told NHK after checking in at a local hotel with seven relatives.

The storm has forced the cancellation of nearly 550 flights and disrupted train services, NHK said.

Many factories also suspended operations, including three plants operated by Toyota.

A total of 79,000 homes in Kagoshima and neighbouring Miyazaki lost power Sunday evening as the storm approached the region.

Haishen forced the Japanese coast guard to suspend its search for dozens of missing sailors from the Gulf Livestock 1 cargo ship that sank in an earlier storm.

Two survivors and the body of a third crew member were found before the search was suspended, and the coast guard said it will resume the operation when Haishen clears the region.

AFP

Philippines Christmas Typhoon Death Toll Climbs To 41

 

The number of deaths from a powerful storm that hit the Philippines on Christmas has climbed to 41, authorities said Sunday, with tens of thousands still in evacuation centres.

Typhoon Phanfone left the Philippines on Saturday after devastating several islands in the central Visayas, including popular tourist destinations, but the extent of the damage continued to grow as assessments came in.

The death toll of 41 — up from 28 on Friday — included three boat crew who died after their vessel capsized due to strong winds, a policeman electrocuted by a toppled post, and a man struck by a felled tree.

“We’re hoping that there will be no more fatalities,” national disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal told AFP, with authorities still searching for 12 people missing.

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The latest agency report showed over 1.6 million people were affected by the typhoon, which damaged over 260,000 houses and forced almost a hundred thousand people to flee to emergency shelters.

Many of the affected residents in the predominantly Catholic nation celebrated Christmas in evacuation centres, where they may have to stay until the New Year given the scale of destruction.

The government estimated that the storm has caused damage to agriculture and infrastructure worth $21 million.

Power lines and internet connections remain down in some areas after Phanfone’s powerful wind gusts of up to 200 kilometres (124 miles) per hour toppled electric posts and trees.

Typhoon Phanfone, locally called Ursula, is the 21st cyclone to hit the storm-prone Philippines, which is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt.

Many of the storms are deadly, and they typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.

At Least 16 Killed As Typhoon Phanfone Hits Philippines

A resident looks at a house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. Bobbie ALOTA / AFP

 

 

Tourists on the popular Philippine holiday island of Boracay were stranded on Thursday after a typhoon swept across on Christmas Day, killing at least 16 people in other parts of the county.

Typhoon Phanfone, with wind gusts reaching 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour, tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts as it ripped through the central Philippines on Wednesday.

At least 16 people were killed in villages and towns in the Visayas, the central third of the Philippines, according to disaster agency officials.

Phanfone also hit Boracay, Coron and other holiday destinations that are famed for their white-sand beaches and popular with foreign tourists.

Mobile phone and internet access on Boracay was cut during the storm on Wednesday and the networks remained down on Thursday, making assessment of the damage there difficult.

“Still, communication lines are down. Electricity is still down,” Jonathan Pablito, police chief of Malay town in Aklan province, which is on a neighbouring island to Boracay, told AFP.

Pablito said ferry services between Boracay and Aklan — the main way to travel to and from the holiday island — were still not operating on Thursday, even though the storm had passed.

“We have no news from coast guard if ships were allowed to sail. Since the 24th… all those going to the island and coming from the island weren’t able to cross.”

The airport at Kalibo town in Aklan, which services Boracay, was badly damaged, according to a Korean tourist who was stranded there and provided images to AFP.

“Roads remain blocked, but some efforts have been made to clear away the damage. It’s pretty bad,” Jung Byung Joon said via Instagram messenger.

“Everything within 100 meters of the airport looks broken. There are a lot of frustrated people at the airport as flights have been cancelled.

“Taxis are still running but it’s windy and still raining so no one wants to leave the airport, including me.”

Another Korean tourist stuck at the damaged airport said she had been unable to make contact with her friend on Borocay on Thursday.

“I tried to call my friend in Boracay today and wasn’t able to get through. Maybe something isn’t working,” Dahae Gong told AFP via Instagram.

“I don’t know when I will be able to go home.”

– Memories of monster storm –

Still, there was no indication of any major damage or otherwise on Boracay.

Though much weaker, Phanfone tracked a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan — the country’s deadliest storm on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

“It’s like the younger sibling of Haiyan. It’s less destructive, but it followed a similar path,” Cindy Ferrer, an information officer at the Western Visayas region’s disaster bureau, told AFP.

Tens of thousands of people in the mostly Catholic nation had been forced to evacuate their homes on Wednesday, ruining Christmas celebrations.

Many others were not able to return to their families, with ferries and plane services suspended.

Among those killed Phanfone was a police officer who was electrocuted by a toppled post while patrolling.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt and is hit by an average of about 20 major storms a year.

Many of the storms are deadly, and they typically wipe out harvests, homes, and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.

AFP

Wet Christmas As Typhoon Phanfone Hits Philippines

Fishermen carry a boat to higher ground in Baybay, eastern Samar on December 24, 2019, after typhoon Phanfone hit the central Philippines. Alren BERONIO / AFP

 

 

Typhoon Phanfone pummelled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday season to millions in the mainly Catholic nation.

Tens of thousands were stranded at shuttered ports or evacuation centres at the height of the festive season on Wednesday, and residents cowered in rain-soaked homes as Phanfone leapt from one small island to another for the second day.

The typhoon crumpled houses like accordions, toppled trees and blacked out cities in the Philippines’ most storm-prone region.

No deaths have been confirmed, but rescuers said they have yet to reach the more isolated areas, some in neck-deep floods.

Though weaker, Phanfone was tracking a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan — the country’s deadliest cyclone on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

More than 16,000 people spent the night in improvised shelters in schools, gyms and government buildings as the typhoon made landfall Tuesday, civil defence officials said.

“It was frightening. The glass windows shattered and we took cover by the stairs,” Ailyn Metran told AFP after she and her four-year-old child spent the night at the local state weather service office where her husband worked.

The typhoon ripped a metal window frame off the building and dropped it onto a car parked outside, she said.

With just two hours’ sleep, the family returned to their home in Tacloban city Wednesday to find their two dogs safe, but the floor was covered in mud and a felled tree rested atop a nearby house.

The weather office said the typhoon strengthened slightly overnight Tuesday and was gusting at 195 kilometres (121 miles) an hour, which can knock down small trees and destroy flimsy houses.

Survivors took to social media with pictures and videos of crushed homes, buses half-submerged in brown-coloured floods, roads strewn with tree trunks, and coconut and banana plants being shredded by ferocious winds.

The typhoon hit land as millions of Filipinos trooped to once-yearly clan reunions centred on the “Noche Buena”, a sumptuous midnight meal that is the highlight of the Catholic nation’s holidays.

More than 25,000 people remained stranded at ports on Christmas Day with ferry services still shut down, the coast guard said.

Scores of flights to the region also remained cancelled, though the populous capital Manila, on the northern section has so far been spared.

Phanfone ravaged the north of the island of Cebu overnight Tuesday, and residents decamped from evacuation centres only to find their homes damaged, civil defence official Allen Froilan Cabaron told AFP.

“They were safer at the evacuation centres. At least they were able to eat the Christmas Eve meal there, even if only tinned fish and instant noodles were available,” Cabaron said.

“But even with food on the table, the atmosphere would have been different because they were not at home,” Cabaron added.

“Obviously, they were unable to celebrate Christmas properly because some spent the night at evacuation centres,” rescue official Cecille Bedonia told AFP by phone from Iloilo city.

At the western island resort of Coron, the beaches emptied and boat tours were suspended as Western tourists stayed in their rooms to await the typhoon onslaught later Thursday.

“Many of the tourist establishments here are closed, and some of our guests failed to arrive because their flights were cancelled,” hotel receptionist Nina Edano told AFP by phone.

“We’re not scared, but the ambience here is generally gloomy,” she added.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific cyclone belt.

As such, the archipelago gets hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing scores of people and wiping out harvests, homes and other infrastructure and keeping millions perennially poor.

A July 2019 study by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank said the most frequent storms lop one per cent off the Philippine economic output, with the stronger ones cutting output by nearly three per cent.

AFP

Typhoon Kammuri Death Toll Hits 13 In Philippines

 

 

The number of people killed by Typhoon Kammuri’s pounding of the Philippines this week has hit 13, officials said Thursday, as authorities confirmed reports of storm-related deaths.

Kammuri’s fierce winds toppled trees and flattened flimsy homes across a swathe of the nation’s north on Tuesday, and forced a rare 12-hour shutdown of Manila’s international airport.

Authorities said on Wednesday one person had drowned while three died after being hit by trees and flying objects.

Disaster officials did not offer details on how the other victims died, but local police reports indicated some may have drowned or been crushed by trees.

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Mark Timbal, a spokesman for the national disaster agency, said no new bodies have been found but the death toll could rise as reports on the ground are verified.

“There is the possibility of an increase in the number, but we are hoping against it,” Timbal told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in exposed or low-lying areas were evacuated from their homes before Kammuri made landfall late Monday, which authorities said had saved lives.

Still the storm-damaged 135 schools and destroyed nearly 1,200 homes, with crop damage in the hardest-hit areas estimated to reach nearly $16 million.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit on Thursday the Bicol region, a peninsula south of Manila which was hit hard by the typhoon.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed half of Tuesday as a precaution, affecting over 500 flights, while roughly half the day’s programme at the Southeast Asian Games, hosted by Manila and nearby cities, had to be postponed.

Tearful Weightlifter Claims Gold As SEA Games Bounce Back From Typhoon

Rahmat Abdullah of Indonesia competes in men’s final 73 kg clean and jerk weightlifting event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in Manila on December 4, 2019. TED ALJIBE / AFP

 

Philippines weightlifter Kristel Macrohon claimed a tearful Southeast Asian Games gold medal as the regional Olympics got back into full swing on Wednesday, a day after being battered by a deadly typhoon.

Macrohon posed alongside her “inspiration”, Olympic silver medallist Hidilyn Diaz, after winning the women’s 71-kg category in Manila in front of cheering Filipino fans.

The 56-sport SEA Games resumed a full programme on Wednesday, organisers said, after Typhoon Kammuri forced about half of Tuesday’s events to be rescheduled.

Four people were killed after the storm roared across the Philippines south of Manila, which is jointly hosting the Games along with Clark and Subic, shearing off roofs, downing power poles and felling trees.

None of the 8,750 athletes and team officials or 12,000 volunteers was reported hurt, although some competitors were delayed by the closure of Manila’s international airport.

“It was an inspiration for me, watching Hidilyn win,” 23-year-old Macrohon told AFP through a translator, referring to Diaz’s 55-kg victory on Monday.

“I’m very happy to have contributed to the medal haul of weightlifting. It’s a really important moment in weightlifting for the Philippines.”

The host nation has quickly taken control of the medals table with 56 golds in the opening days of competition — already outstripping the 24 it won in 2017.

Home favourite, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, was aiming for seven golds overall but on Wednesday came second in three events, taking his tally to two golds and five silvers.

The Games, contested by 11 Southeast Asian countries, are traditionally heavily weighted towards the hosts who are free to decide much of the sporting programme.

The Philippines’ success follows a chaotic build-up when unfinished infrastructure, transport delays and problems with food and accommodation were heavily criticised, prompting an apology from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Home athletes picked up 14 out of 20 golds in their national martial art of arnis, and on Wednesday romped to a four-gold sweep in the obstacle course race, an event that was making its SEA Games debut.

However, the Philippines’ dominance has not gone without some criticism over alleged home bias.

In pencak silat, a Southeast Asian martial art, Filipino fighter Dines Dumaan was declared a 5-0 winner over defending champion Mohd Faizul Mohd Nasir — despite kicking the Malaysian in the head as he lay prone on the ground.

Faizul was taken to hospital and Malaysian fans reacted angrily on social media, using #SEAGamesfail, a hashtag which was used to mock the tournament’s turbulent build-up.

Seven of the last 11 SEA Games hosts have finished top of the medals table, including Malaysia who were runaway winners at the last edition in 2017.

Minnows East Timor are rooted to the bottom of the table, yet to claim a single medal.

AFP

One Dead, Two Missing In Landslides Weeks After Typhoon Hits Japan

This picture shows scaffoldings, hit by typhoon Faxai, at a parking lot at Haneda airport in Tokyo on September 9, 2019. jiji press / AFP

 

One person was killed and two others were missing in landslides on Friday, a local official said, as Japan was hit by heavy rains just two weeks after a deadly typhoon barrelled through the country.

A woman in her 40s was sent to hospital and another woman in her 60s was unaccounted for after landslides triggered by downpour struck two houses in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo, said a local disaster management official.

“She was later confirmed dead in hospital,” the official told AFP.

A separate landslide destroyed a house also in Chiba and a man in his 60s was missing, he said, adding that rescuers continued their search for the two missing people.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings of heavy rains, landslides and floods in a swathe of areas including eastern and central Japan.

“As risks of disasters have already increased, please be extremely vigilant about landslides, rise in river water volumes and floods as rains will continue,” the JMA warned on its Twitter account.

Non-mandatory evacuation orders were issued to more than 340,000 residents in the Fukushima region and 5,000 people in Chiba, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Footage showed cars splashing through roads partly inundated with water, and swollen rivers seemingly on the verge of flooding.

Some 4,700 houses in the region were without power by Friday evening, while some train services were suspended, officials said.

Japan was hit by typhoon Hagibis about two weeks ago, with the death toll from the violent storm now standing at more than 80.

Residents still picking up the pieces after that storm expressed frustrations over reconstruction delays and their fear of another disaster.

“I’m a bit worried that if an evacuation order is issued, we will have to leave here,” a woman in Nagano in central Japan who was cleaning up mud told NHK.

Many of the river banks and levees that were breached during Typhoon Hagibis have not yet been repaired.

Japan Typhoon: Rescue Efforts Continue As Death Toll Tops 70

Fire department workers (C) evacuate residents from a flooded area in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture on October 13, 2019. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Rescuers in Japan were working around the clock Tuesday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors of a powerful weekend typhoon that killed more than 70 people and caused widespread destruction.

Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday, unleashing fierce winds and unprecedented rain that triggered landslides and caused dozens of rivers to burst their banks.

By Tuesday night, public broadcaster NHK put the toll at 72, with around a dozen people missing. The government’s tally was lower, but it said it was still updating information.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there was no plan to slow rescue operations, with around 110,000 police, coast guard, firefighters and military troops involved.

“Rescue work and searches for the missing are continuing around the clock,” Abe told parliament.

“Where rivers flooded, work is ongoing to fix spots where banks broke, and water is being pumped out where floods occurred,” he added.

His office said more than 3,000 people were rescued in the wake of the disaster, which affected 36 of the country’s 47 prefectures.

The defence ministry has called up several hundred reserve troops — in addition to active duty soldiers — for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako were “deeply grieving for so many people affected”, an Imperial Household Agency official said.

The royal couple “expressed their sincere condolences for those who lost their lives… and heartily hope that those who are unaccounted for will be found as soon as possible,” the official said.

Despite the scale of the disaster, the government has no plan to delay a palace ceremony and parade to celebrate Naruhito’s enthronement on October 22.

– Rain prompts new warnings –

Government officials warned that more rain was expected throughout Tuesday in several parts of the country affected by the typhoon.

“We ask people not to drop their guard and to remain fully alert,” chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Hagibis crashed into land packing gusts up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) per hour, but it was the storm’s heavy rain that caused the most damage.

Deaths were reported across many prefectures and included a man whose apartment was flooded, a municipal worker whose car was caught in rising waters and at least seven crew aboard a cargo ship that sank in Tokyo bay on Saturday night.

By Tuesday evening, some 24,000 households were still without power, and 128,000 homes had no water.

Tens of thousands of people spent Monday night in government shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.

“My frightened daughter can’t stop shaking. We want to go home quickly,” Rie Nishioka, 39, told Kyodo News agency in Miyagi prefecture.

– Government pledges aid –

The government pledged financial support to affected regions without specifying how much aid it would set aside.

“Support for the victims of the disaster is an urgent task,” Abe said.

“There are concerns that the impact on daily life and economic activities may be long-lasting.”

Another area affected by the storm was Fukushima, where several bags containing soil and plants collected during nuclear decontamination efforts were washed away.

“Ten bags out of 2,667 were swept into a river during the typhoon, but six of them were recovered yesterday,” environment ministry official Keisuke Takagi told AFP, adding that the remaining four bags had been found and would be collected soon.

“Residents must be worried about the environment, but there are no reports that the bags were broken, so there will be nothing to worry about once they have been recovered safely,” he said.

By Tuesday, transport was largely back to normal, though some flights were cancelled and train services partially disrupted where tracks or train stock were damaged by the storm.

The typhoon also caused disruption to sporting events, delaying Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and forcing Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel three matches.

A crunch fixture pitting the hosts against Scotland went ahead on Sunday night, with Japan winning its first-ever quarter final spot.

14 Dead, Nine Missing As Typhoon Hagibis Hits Japan

Fire department workers (C) evacuate residents from a flooded area in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture on October 13, 2019, one day after Typhoon Hagibis swept through central and eastern Japan. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

 

At least 14 people were killed and nine others missing after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, officials said Sunday, as rescuers scrambled to reach people trapped by catastrophic flooding.

The storm’s “unprecedented” heavy rain triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks.

The destruction forced Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel a third match though the key Japan-Scotland clash will go ahead.

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By Sunday morning, the significantly weakened storm had moved back off land, but serious flooding was reported in several areas, including 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 deployed 27,000 troops to aid rescue operations, including some in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes in Nagano.

In Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, rescue workers in boats were evacuating elderly people from a retirement home that was heavily flooded in the storm.

One woman wearing an orange life vest clutched at rescue workers in hardhats as the boat moved through the muddy floodwaters.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7:00 pm (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).

The storm claimed its first victim even before making landfall, when high winds flipped a vehicle, killing its driver.

Landslides and flooding claimed more lives overnight, and the toll climbed higher after sunrise on Sunday, as the scale of the devastation wrought by Hagibis became clear.

– ‘Great impact’ –

Bodies were retrieved from homes and vehicles submerged by floodwaters, from raging overflowing rivers, and from buildings buried in landslides.

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and a Chinese crew member aboard a boat that sank overnight in Tokyo Bay.

Four of the crew onboard were rescued, but authorities were still searching for another seven.

The government said at least nine people were missing and more than 140 injured in the storm.

“We continue to see a great impact on people’s life,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

“The government will do its utmost,” he added, pledging to deploy more troops and emergency officials if needed.

More than 160,000 homes were still without power by Sunday afternoon, with around 1,000 in Chiba, east of Tokyo, also experiencing water outages, national broadcaster NHK said.

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-Scotland match on –

The Japan 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.”

The storm also brought travel chaos during a long holiday weekend in Japan, with flights grounded and both local and bullet trains serving Tokyo suspended fully or partially.

On Sunday, train services were resuming and operations were slowly restarting at the two airports serving the capital, although many flights were cancelled.

But some lines remained halted, with aerial footage in Nagano showing rows of bullet trains partially submerged by flooding.

The storm had already caused havoc for the sports world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancellation of two Saturday Rugby World Cup matches.

On Sunday morning, organisers said they had been forced to cancel a third fixture — Namibia-Canada — but gave the go-ahead to three others including a crunch Japan-Scotland game in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Scotland faced elimination if the match was cancelled and had threatened legal action if it was not played.

AFP

Two Dead As Powerful Typhoon Hits Japan

Damaged houses caused by weather patterns from Typhoon Hagibis are seen in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture on October 12, 2019.  Jiji Press / AFP

 

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday, killing at least two people and prompting authorities to issue their highest level of disaster warning over “unprecedented” downpours that caused flooding and landslides.

Around 7.3 million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders and more than 30 people were injured, four seriously.

Even before making landfall, Hagibis caused enormous disruption, forcing the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, delaying the Japanese Grand Prix and grounding all flights in the Tokyo region.

It crashed into Japan’s main Honshu island just before 7:00pm (1000 GMT), barrelling into Izu, a peninsula southwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, packing gusts of wind up to 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour) around an hour.

The storm claimed its first victim hours before arriving on the coast, when strong winds from its outer bands flipped a car in Chiba east of Tokyo and killed the driver.

But it was Hagibis’ torrential rain that prompted the JMA to issue its highest-level emergency warning for parts of Tokyo and the surrounding areas, warning of disaster.

 ‘Unprecedented’ rains 

“Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,” JMA forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara told reporters.

“The possibility is extremely high that disasters such as landslides and floods have already occurred. It is important to take action that can help save your lives.”

At least two landslides were already confirmed, with a man in his sixties killed in one in Gunma north of Tokyo.

By early evening, tens of thousands were in shelters and receiving emergency rations and blankets, though a 5.7-magnitude quake that rattled the Tokyo area did little to calm nerves.

Among the evacuees were people whose homes were damaged by a powerful typhoon that hit the region last month.

“I evacuated because my roof was ripped off by the other typhoon and rain came in. I’m so worried about my house,” a 93-year-old man told national broadcaster NHK as he sheltered at a centre in Tateyama in Chiba east of Tokyo.

In Yokohama, outside of Tokyo, others hunkered down in their homes despite the storm.

“I’m 77 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Hidetsugu Nishimura told AFP.

“We can hear an infernal din from the rain and the wind, and a fragment of the roof has gone. For an hour, the house was shaking from wind and rain.”

Even in the hours before the storm neared land, its outer bands brought tornado-like gusts of wind to Chiba, east of Tokyo, where one home was destroyed and several damaged.

Five people including a three-year-old boy were sent to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries, the local fire department told AFP.

Rugby, F1 disrupted 

In Gotemba, west of Tokyo, the fire department said it had rescued one man who fell into a swollen canal but was still searching for a second man.

The JMA has forecast half a metre (20 inches) of rain for the Tokyo area in the 24 hours to midday on Sunday, with more for the central Tokai region, but many rivers were already close to breaching their banks by Saturday afternoon.

In Kanagawa, authorities implemented an emergency discharge as the Shiroyama dam reached capacity, with warnings issued for people living downstream.

Across the regions affected by the storm, more than 180,000 people lost power.

And everything from auto plants to the country’s ubiquitous convenience stores, usually open 24 hours a day, shut their doors.

The storm has forced the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches: England-France and New Zealand-Italy.

It could also jeopardise a key match-up between Scotland and Japan on Sunday. Officials are not expected to make a final decision on that game until Sunday morning, after they have assessed any damage to the venue and transport links.

Scotland face elimination if the match is axed and have warned they could take legal action if the game is cancelled. World Rugby called the threat “disappointing”.

And organisers warned Saturday night that a Namibia-Canada fixture could be cancelled in Kamaishi, which was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Japan is hit by around 20 typhoons a year, though the capital is not usually badly affected.

Hagibis is bearing down on the region just weeks after Typhoon Faxai hit the area with similar strength, killing two and causing major damage in Chiba.

AFP