Death Toll Jumps to 48 from Powerful Typhoon Hagibis

Ron Brackett
Published: October 14, 2019

Cities and towns across Japan on Monday were assessing the devastation left by Typhoon Hagibis, the most destructive storm to hit the country in decades.

At least 48 people were killed, 17 were missing and about 100 were injured, according to the Kyodo News agency.

Throughout the day Sunday, helicopters hovered over flooded areas, while rescue crews dug through mud trying to free people from homes buried by landslides.

"The major typhoon has caused immense damage far and wide in eastern Japan," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The typhoon made landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture about 7 p.m. Saturday with winds nearly 90 mph, the public Japan Broadcasting Corp.

A Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter hovers above submerged residential area after an embankment of the Chikuma River broke because of Typhoon Hagibis, in Nagano, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. Rescue efforts for people stranded in flooded areas are in full force after a powerful typhoon dashed heavy rainfall and winds through a widespread area of Japan, including Tokyo.
(Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

Torrential rain caused levees on 21 rivers to collapse, according to the infrastructure ministry.

Flooding drove residents from their homes in Nagano, Niigata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, the Japan Times reported.

“I extend my condolences for all those who lost their lives and offer my sympathy to those who all those impacted by Typhoon (Hagibis),” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday.

In Nagano, 360 people were stranded after a levee on the Chikuma River collapsed.

A damaged train bridge lies in the swollen Chikuma River in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, on Sunday, October 13, 2019.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

Rescue helicopters plucked victims from rooftops of flooded homes.

“My father stayed at the neighborhood evacuation center the night before, but he went back to his house around 6 a.m. to check for any damage. He was suddenly trapped inside his house by a rush of floodwater and escaped by climbing to the second floor,” Yusuke Okano, told the Japan Times. “He then called me for help, so I called the rescuers.”

Okano, 39, was waiting for his father to be rescued as he spoke.

“We bought him a new car recently, but it must be covered in mud now because the first floor of his house is completely filled with water. He said he didn’t have anything to eat, so I hope he will be rescued soon.”

The man was safely rescued later in the day.

A couple stands on a collapsed riverbank of the Akiyama River after the passage of Typhoon Hagibis on Sunday, October 13, 2019, in Sano, Tochigi Japan.
(Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Noriko Kubota, 79, said she was packing to leave her home after officials ordered her to evacuate about 6 a.m. Sunday.

“I was hurrying to pack my stuff when the flood water suddenly rushed into the first floor of my house and the level soon rose to my ankles,” Kubota said. “At that point, I just abandoned everything and ran to the bridge near my house.”

“I waited on the bridge with my neighbors, but the water level increased to the point where it was touching our feet, so I was terrified. I had never experienced something like this before and didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Rows of Japan's bullet trains, parked in a facility, sit in a pool of water in Nagano, central Japan, after Typhoon Hagibis hit the city, Sunday, October 13, 2019.
(Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

Near Nagano Station, a fleet of bullet trains parked at East Japan Railway Co.'s railyard were swamped.

The company said 10 trains — a third of the bullet trains used for the Hokuriku Shinkansen line — were damaged by the flooding.

More than 375,000 homes were without electricity and 14,000 had no running water on Sunday morning, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

A tornado hit parts of Ichihara in Chiba Prefecture on Saturday, destroying 12 houses and damaging more than 70 others.

A landslide swept away homes in Gunma Prefecture, killing four people.

A 77-year-old woman in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, fell 130 feet to her death as rescuers lifted her to a helicopter. The Tokyo Fire Department said rescuers forgot to attach the hook of her safety harness.

Fire department workers evacuate a resident from a flooded area in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, on Sunday, October 13, 2019, one day after Typhoon Hagibis swept through central and eastern Japan.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Tamagawa River submerged residential areas in Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture.

A Panamanian cargo ship with 12 crew members sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night during the storm. Five crew members were killed, according to coast guard officials, and three were missing, Kyodo News reported.

Bags of decontaminated waste from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant washed into the Furumichi River in the city of Tamura in Fukushima Prefecture, the Japan Times reported.

Six bags, each weighing about 1 ton, have been recovered so far. An official said there was no immediate danger to the public.

Buildings lie in ruins after they were hit by a tornado shortly before the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis, on Sunday, October 13, 2019, in Chiba, Japan.
(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The storm caused a Rugby World Cup match between Namibia and Canada, scheduled for Sunday in Kamaishi, northern Japan, to be canceled as a precaution. The match between Japan and Scotland went on as scheduled Sunday evening. Japan beat Scotland 28 to 21, advancing to the knockout stage for the first time.

Matches on Saturday had been canceled. Stores and amusement parks had also closed.

Train service in the Tokyo area resumed early Sunday morning, although others were undergoing safety checks and were expected to restart later in the day.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said most of their flights are expected to return to normal on Monday.

As the powerful typhoon bore down on Japan on Saturday, tens of thousands sought shelter in evacuation centers set up in coastal towns. Kyodo News service said evacuation warnings had been issued to more than 6 million people.

Japanese authorities repeatedly warned that Hagibis was on par with a typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958. That storm left more than 1,200 people dead and half a million houses flooded.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means "swift" in the Philippine language Tagalog, weakened into a tropical depression on Sunday as it continued to move along the east coast of central Japan.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.