Typhoon Hagibis claims at least 44 lives in Japan, rescue work continues
Typhoon Hagibis, which swept across central and eastern Japan on Saturday and Sunday, has claimed at 44 lives in Japan on Monday as search-and-rescue operations continued in flood- and landslide-hit areas of Nagano and other prefectures.
In addition, 14 people are listed as missing, and more than 100 others were injured during the weekend storm. The number of the injured is expected to rise during further search and rescue.
As of Monday noon, about 38,000 people in 17 prefectures had evacuated their homes, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a disaster task force meeting that the government will do its utmost to support those affected by the typhoon and its after-effects, vowing to improve conditions at evacuation centers and shelters without waiting for requests from local governments.
"There are concerns that the impact on lives and economic activities may persist," he said. "We will respond as best we can as we continue to think about those who are suffering."
Defense Minister Taro Kono told senior officials at a special Ministry of Defense meeting to ensure the Self-Defense Forces makes its best efforts in responding to the disaster, adding that the first 72 hours that follow a disaster are crucial when it comes to saving lives.
Japan's Self-Defense Forces, police and firefighters are carrying out the operations in the wake of the typhoon. By Monday morning, some 31,000 personnel have been mobilized to carry out rescue operations that had saved 1,518 people, said the defense ministry.
Typhoon Hagibis, meaning "swift" in the Philippine language Tagalog, dumped record rainfall which led to rivers bursting their banks, flooding residential districts and triggering landslides in 11 prefectures.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, a total of 21 rivers in Nagano, Fukushima, Ibaraki and three other prefectures flooded.
In the central city of Nagano, workers used more than 20 pumping vehicles to help assess damage to the drainage system caused when the Chikuma River's embankment collapsed.
As of 6am local time on Monday, more than 52,000 households in Tokyo and nearby areas are still without power. Tokyo Electric Power Company is working to fix transmission facilities and expects the electricity supply will be restored by Wednesday in about 90 percent of the areas.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Japan confirmed to Xinhua on Monday that five Chinese crew members died, one missing and another rescued after a Panama registered cargo ship sank late Saturday in Tokyo Bay, where it was anchored as Typhoon Hagibis approached.
Zhan Kongchao, head of consular protection department of the embassy, told Xinhua that staff of the embassy have already rushed to the scene and urged Japan Coast Guard to step up its search for the missing, while preparing to visit the rescued crew member.
He also said that the embassy has learned from volunteers around the country that Typhoon Hagibis has caused property damage to Chinese citizens living and working in Nagano, Niigata, Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures, but no casualties have been reported so far.
The embassy posted a warning on its official website last Thursday, urging the Chinese tourists to pay attention to the weather, adjust their itinerary in advance and stay away from rivers, beaches and mountains to avoid natural disasters such as floods or landslides.