TYPHOON Hagibis has killed at least 44 people in Japan with the death toll expected to rise as more than 100,000 rescuers search for bodies and survivors after the worst storm in generations devastated the country.
Wading through muddy, waist-high waters, teams have fanned out across vast sections of towns on the island nation’s central and eastern region which are underwater in the aftermath of the 140mph storm.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said vast areas had been struck by the storm and called for urgent support to the affected.
He said: “There are still many residents who have yet to be accounted for.
“Our people in uniform are working day and night in search and rescue operations.
“Damage has been made in an extremely wide range of areas, and more than 30,000 people are still being forced to remain in the state of evacuation.
“It is our urgent task to offer meticulous support to those who have been affected.”
Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday and headed out to sea early on Sunday.
Damage has been made in an extremely wide range of areas, and more than 30,000 people are still being forced to remain in the state of evacuationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe
Groups of rescuers wearing goggles and snorkels searched for survivors while making their way in waist-high water in Nagano, central Japan, where the Chikuma River inundated swaths of land.
A middle-aged man in Nagano, asked about the situation around his house, told NHK: “It’s just like a lake.”
Public broadcaster NHK said evacuation centres were filled with residents, while some people perished as they sought shelter.
A 77-year-old woman fell about 40 metres to her death during an airlift.
A huge swathe of land near the Chikuma River has been left underwater when the river broke its banks[/caption]
A car hangs off the side of a road after the country was devastated by the typhoon[/caption]
Rescue efforts have started for people stranded in flooded areas[/caption]
Homes and buildings have collapsed after the strong winds whipped through Japan[/caption]
Landslides near Tokyo’s suburbs destroyed houses.
A family who sheltered in their home before it collapsed told Sky News: “I heard a loud bang. And I thought, the house is probably collapsing.
“We were buried under all the things. My husband and my mum got out by themselves. And I was helped by my husband. And the other four of us were helped by firefighters.”
Military helicopters airlifted stranded people from homes near the river, some cradling their children, after they were trapped by water reaching the roofs of their houses.
In Fukushima, north of the capital, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The plant was crippled by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Tepco spokeswoman Emi Iwasa said the typhoon triggered 11 leak alerts at the plant.
Of those, eight were confirmed as being triggered by rainwater and the rest were still being investigated.
Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday evening and headed out to sea early on Sunday – leaving behind cloudless skies and high temperatures across the country.
NHK showed fields and vast residential areas in parts of central and eastern Japan covered in brown water, with some of the worst damage caused by Chikuma river in Nagano prefecture.
In Kawagoe, north of Tokyo, rescuers took residents from a flooded aged care facility by inflatable boats and carried them on their backs to safety.
They also searched for survivors in homes destroyed in landslides near Tokyo’s suburbs and in Fukushima prefecture, NHK showed.
Houses have been flattened by the strong winds[/caption]
Roads have been ripped apart and the areas affected ground to a halt[/caption]
RUGBY WORLD CUP CANCELLATIONS
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency meeting and sent the minister in charge of disaster management to the affected areas.
He said: “I extend my condolences for all those who lost their lives and offer my sympathy to all those impacted by Typhoon No.19 (Hagibis).
“With respect to blackouts, water outage and suspension of transportation services, we intend to exert all-out efforts for the earliest recovery … we ask the public to remain vigilant of landslides and other hazards.”
The Rugby World Cup match between Namibia and Canada, scheduled for Sunday in Kamaishi, northern Japan, was cancelled as a precautionary measure for safety reasons.
The matches for Saturday were cancelled, with stores and amusement parks closed.
Shortly before the typhoon made landfall a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was centred in the ocean off the coast of Chiba, near Tokyo.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 regions, including Tokyo, warning of amounts of rain that occur only once in decades.
Houses are submerged in muddy waters as Typhoon Hagibis hit the area, in Kawagoe, north of Tokyo[/caption]
Weather models projected the monster storm would continue on a north-westerly path after hitting land.
Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, director of the Japan Riverfront Research Center, said Tokyo, where 1.5million people live below sea level, said residents were at risk of storm surges.
He said: “We are heading towards high tide. If the typhoon hits Tokyo when the tide is high, that could cause storm surges and that would be the scariest scenario.
“People in Tokyo have been in a false sense of security.”
The deadliest Typhoon to hit Japan was Typhoon Ida, known as the “Kanogawa Typhoon” in 1958 where it killed more than 1,000 people.
England vs France in Yokohama was among the rugby matches to be called off, with Sunday’s games still under consideration.
But Scotland are hoping they are still able to play Japan in Yokohama on Sunday, with a quarter-final spot up for grabs.
New Zealand secured their place in the next round after their match against Italy – who still had a chance of progressing but now miss out – was cancelled.