Tens of thousands of troops and rescue workers worked in Japan on Monday to fight floods and help stranded residents after one of the most powerful typhoons to hit the country in six decades left as many as 36 people dead.
Typhoon Hagibis – which means “speed” in the Philippine language, Tagalog – left the capital, Tokyo, relatively unscathed, but caused serious damage to surrounding regions, as rivers burst their banks and the torrential rain triggered landslides. More than 100,000 rescuers – including 31,000 troops – clawed their way through debris from Sunday night into Monday morning to reach people trapped by the floods or whose homes had been buried. Authorities warned more mudslides were possible with more rain forecast.
Kyodo News service, assembling information from a wide network, counted 36 deaths caused by the typhoon with 16 people missing. The official count from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency was 19 dead and 13 missing.
Rivers overflowed their banks at close to a dozen locations — including in Nagano in central Japan, where the Chikuma River breached an embankment and water gushed into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.
Mimori Domoto, who works at Nagano craft beer-maker Yoho Brewing, said all 40 employees at her company had been confirmed safe.
But deliveries had temporarily halted, and an event to promote the beer in Tokyo over the weekend had to be cancelled.
“My heart aches when I think of the damage that happened in Nagano. Who would have thought it would get this bad?” she said.
Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima one rescue went tragically awry when a woman died after falling from the cradle.
Elsewhere, rescue workers carried out an hours-long boat operation to evacuate hundreds of people from a retirement home in Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, which was flooded up to its top floor.
An elderly woman wearing an orange life vest was brought out from a boat on the back of a rescuer. Others were hoisted onto wheelchairs and pushed along a muddy shore on arrival by boat.