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Death count rising as Japan evaluates typhoon's damage

by HARUKA NUGA and MARI YAMAGUCHI The Associated Press | October 16, 2019 at 3:52 a.m. | Updated October 16, 2019 at 3:52 a.m.
A rescue team searches for missing people Tuesday in Nagano, Japan, as the toll of death and destruction from Typhoon Hagibis continued to mount. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with lawmakers in Tokyo and pledged to do the utmost for the safety and rescue of those missing or those who had to evacuate. More photos at arkansasonline.com/1016typhoon/

NAGANO, Japan -- The toll of death and destruction from a typhoon that tore through central and northern Japan climbed Tuesday, as the government said it was considering approving a special budget for the disaster response and eventual reconstruction.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary session that the number of deaths tied to Typhoon Hagibis had climbed to 53 and was expected to rise, as at least another nine people are presumed dead. Japan's Kyodo News agency, citing its own tally, put the death toll at 69.

Abe pledged to do the utmost for the safety and rescue of those missing or those who had to evacuate.

"We put the people's lives first," he said.

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Hagibis hit Japan's main island on Saturday with strong winds and historic rainfall that caused more than 200 rivers to overflow, leaving thousands of homes flooded, damaged or without power. Rescue crews on Tuesday were still searching for those missing, thought to number about 20.

About 34,000 homes were without power and 110,000 lacked running water. More than 30,000 people were still at shelters as of late Monday, according to the Cabinet Office's latest tally.

Business appeared nearly back to normal in central Tokyo, and residents in areas where floodwaters subsided started cleaning up. Lives, however, remained paralyzed in Nagano, Fukushima and other hard-hit areas that were still inundated.

Retired carpenter Toshitaka Yoshimura, who grew up in the Tsuno district of Nagano, was stunned when he returned to his home after staying at an evacuation center. His house was a mess. "I put a lot of effort in this house. I made all the furniture with my wife. Now look what happened in one day," he said.

In Fukushima, 11 bags containing possibly radioactive soil and debris removed as part of decontamination efforts from the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were washed from two outdoor temporary storage sites and found downstream, the Environment Ministry said. Most of the remaining 5,000 bags stacked up at the two sites remained in place.

There was no risk to the environment because the waterproof bags were intact and hadn't leaked, the ministry said. It said, however, officials will take preventive measures ahead of future rainstorms.

Speaking in parliament, Abe said there are concerns of lasting effects of the storm in hard-hit areas. He pledged speedy support for residents.

Abe said the government is funding the disaster response from the $4.6 billion special reserve from the fiscal 2019 budget and may compile a supplementary budget if needed.

East Japan Railway Co. said its Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train services connecting Tokyo and Kanazawa were reduced because of flooding of six trains at its rail yard in Nagano. The trains sat in a pool of muddy water that was up to their windows.

Photo by AP/Kyodo News
Typhoon Hagibis left the Abukuma train station in Marumori, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, in ruin.

A Section on 10/16/2019

Print Headline: Death count rising as Japan evaluates typhoon's damage

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