Tokyo: At least 18 people have been killed and 13 were reported missing on Sunday after the powerful super typhoon Hagibis ravaged central and eastern Japan, with torrential rains causing a number of rivers to overflow into residential areas of the country.
At least 149 people have been injured across the country, Efe news quoted public broadcaster NHK as saying, as authorities scrambled to count the rising casualties.
NHK was airing footage of residential areas flooded by overflowing rivers and rescue efforts early on Sunday.
In Nagano prefecture – one of the worst affected by the storm – torrential rains caused the Chikuma river to overflow and flood nearby localities, carrying away vehicles in its torrent.
Three people were reported rescued but three others remain missing.
In Sano, Tochigi prefecture, the overflowing Akiyama river flooded a residential area and rescue teams were evacuating residents.
The central government has deployed around 27,000 soldiers of the Self-Defence Forces (military) to take part in the rescue efforts, local news agency Kyodo reported.
In Muromori, Miyagi prefecture, the city hall was flooded and there were reports of landslides and areas being cut off due to the submersion of roads.
In Tokyo, the waters of the Tama river were also flowing above the limit and the lower floors of some buildings, including a hospital had been flooded.
Local firefighters were trying to ascertain if everybody had evacuated successfully, while one man was found dead, NHK reported.
The area close to the river is often inhabited by homeless people and search and rescue efforts continued as water levels started to recede.
Also in the capital, one of the 12 crew members of a cargo ship flying the Panamanian flag was killed and seven others were missing after the weather conditions caused by Hagibis sank the vessel, which had been anchored in the Tokyo bay.
Five of the sailors were rescued on Sunday morning but one of them could not be saved, local news agency Kyodo reported.
According to the coast guard, the crew consisted of three Myanmar nationals, seven Chinese citizens and two from Vietnam.
In the prefectures of Tohoku, northeastern Japan, and Kanto – which includes Tokyo – the rain recorded on Saturday amounted to 30-40 percent of the annual rainfall in the region, NHK reported.
The companies in charge of some dams authorized the release of water as an emergency measure to prevent a possible collapse, with the released water increasing the levels of already overflowing rivers.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency urged people to remain on alert to the risk of flooding and landslides even after the typhoon had passed, warning that the soil might loosen due to the heavy rains.
Around 50 landslides of varying size had been registered across the country and reportedly buried many houses in rural areas, with casualties reported but not yet specified.
In the town of Ichihara in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, a tornado destroyed 12 houses and damaged more than 70, also overturning the car of a 50-year-old man, who died as a result.
The passage of Hagibis – the 19th typhoon of the season in the Pacific and one of the most powerful to hit Japan in decades – had on Saturday completely paralyzed transport in the region.
Although services were being restored gradually, more than 800 flights remain canceled on Sunday, NHK reported.
The organisers of the Rugby World Cup also cancelled “on safety grounds” the match between Namibia and Canada scheduled for Sunday in Kamaishi.