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At Least Four Dead After Fierce Typhoon Pounded Japan

The storm, which the government said could be the strongest to hit Tokyo, Japan since 1958. It brought record-breaking rainfall in many areas, including the popular resort town of Hakone. The town was hit with 939.5 mm (37 inches) of rain over 24 hours.



The most powerful typhoon to hit Tokyo in decades plowed into northern Japan early on Sunday. Fierce rain and wind paralyzed the capital, led to at least four deaths, millions under evacuation warnings.

Authorities lifted rain and flood warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo before dawn on Sunday. However they imposed them on areas further north after Typhoon Hagibis blasted through the capital.

Attention focused on Fukushima, where Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. overnight reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Three people have been declared dead in Chiba, Gunma and Kanagawa prefectures surrounding Tokyo. Meanwhile a man in his 60s was found with no vital signs in a flooded apartment in Kawasaki, public broadcaster NHK said.

Seventeen Were Missing Early Sunday

A 50-year-old man was killed near Tokyo early on Saturday in a car overturned by punishing winds. Another person died after being washed away in a car, NHK said. Nine people remain missing in landslides and flooding, it said.

According to a local coast guard, a Panamanian cargo ship with 12 crew members aboard is believed to have sunk in Tokyo Bay. Three crew members were rescued by early Sunday.

Authorities issued evacuation advisories and orders for more than 6 million people across the country. The storm has unleashed the heaviest rain and winds in years. Some 80 injuries have been reported so far, while more than 270,000 households lost power, NHK said.

The storm, which the government said could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958. It brought record-breaking rainfall in many areas, including the popular resort town of Hakone. The town was hit with 939.5 mm (37 inches) of rain over 24 hours.

Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday evening. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook Tokyo shortly after.

Japans Bullet Train and Airport Resume Services

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and limited bullet train services resumed operations from Sunday morning following large-scale suspension on the previous day. Railways within the Tokyo Metropolitan Area operated by JR East were unlikely to be restarted until at least noon Sunday, the operator said in a statement.

Even as the typhoon moved away from the capital late on Saturday, one expert warned of further flooding as several surrounding prefectures began releasing water from dams, letting it flow downstream.

“The situation is now worse than this evening,” said Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, director of the Japan Riverfront Research Center. About 1.5 million people in Tokyo live below sea level.

The Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 prefectures, warning of potential for once-in-decades rain totals. It lifted the alerts early Sunday.

“Damage from floods and landslides is likely taking place already,” an agency official told a news conference carried by NHK. “It is critical that people take action urgently to protect their lives and the lives of loved ones.”

Just last month, another strong storm, Typhoon Faxai, destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses in Chiba, east of Tokyo, and caused extensive power outages.

The capital’s main airports, Haneda and Narita, stopped flights from landing and connecting trains were suspended, forcing the cancellation of more than a thousand flights.

Train operators suspended bullet train services extensively, while many train and subway lines in Tokyo were also down for most of Saturday. Usually bustling entertainment and shopping districts such as Shibuya and Ginza were deserted.

Disneyland Closed

Tokyo Disneyland was also closed on Saturday. Its first weather-related closure since 1984, and supermarkets ran out of bottled water, batteries and other disaster-related goods.

Many people in and around Tokyo took shelter in temporary evacuation facilities early, before the worst of the storm arrived.

Yuka Ikemura, a 24-year-old nursery school teacher, was in one such facility at a community centre in eastern Tokyo with her 3-year-old son, 8-month-old daughter and their pet rabbit.

She said she decided to move before it was too late.

“I’ve got small children to take care of and we live on the first floor of an old apartment,” Ikemura said.

“We brought with us the bare necessities. I’m scared to think about when we will have run out diapers and milk.”

Japanese Formula One Grand Prix organizers cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday. Two matches of the Rugby World Cup due to be played on Saturday were also cancelled.

Source: Japan Times


Typhoon Pounds Japan Coastline

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