Sunday, April 21, 2024

Two killed as typhoon brings record rainfall in Japan

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TOKYO – Two men were killed, about 60 people injured and more than six million people advised to evacuate as a powerful typhoon bore down on the Japanese capital on Saturday, bringing with it the heaviest rain and winds in 60 years.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday evening, bursting some river banks and threatening to flood low-lying Tokyo as it coincides with high tide.

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

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 prefectures, including Tokyo, warning of amounts of rain that occur only once in decades.

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

Many people in and around Tokyo took shelter in temporary evacuation facilities earlier on Saturday before the worst arrived.

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

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

Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Narita airport in Chiba both stopped flights from landing and connecting trains were suspended, forcing the cancellation of more than a thousand flights, according to Japanese media.

Kanagawa prefecture said it was releasing water from the Shiroyama dam, southwest of Tokyo, as an emergency measure and alerted residents in areas along nearby rivers.

Heavy winds have already caused some damage, particularly in Chiba east of Tokyo, where one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years destroyed or damaged 30 000 houses a month ago.

A man in his forties was killed in an overturned car in the prefecture early on Saturday. Another man died after a landslide destroyed two houses in a town in eastern Japan, with several still reported missing, according to NHK. (Reuters)

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