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Japan tackles rescues, cleanup in Typhoon Hagibis aftermath

More than 160 people injured, at least 16 missing as many areas were hit by record amounts of rainfall, violent winds

Japan's Self-Defence Forces' vehicles and personnel preparing for a rescue operation in flood-hit Nagano on Sunday.


JAPAN tackled rescue and cleanup operations after a powerful typhoon ripped across the country, causing major flooding and landslides and leaving at least 21 people dead and hundreds of thousands without power.

More than 160 people were injured and at least 16 were missing as many areas were hit by record amounts of rainfall and violent winds, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Japan has sent thousands of troops to fight floods and help stranded residents. At least 48 landslides and mudflows have been reported in 12 prefectures, and nine rivers burst their banks, Kyodo news reported, citing the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The heavy rain destroyed river banks in central and northern Japan - most seriously the Chikuma River in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. Houses were flooded in the area, with NHK showing footage of collapsed bridges and residents being rescued by helicopter from rooftops.

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Typhoon Hagibis, the biggest storm to hit Japan in decades, moved away from the island by Sunday morning and was downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. At its peak, Hagibis was packing winds of up to 252km per hour.

About 262,150 buildings across the country have lost electricity due to the typhoon as at noon on Sunday, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement.

A total of nine local governments, including Tokyo and Nagano, have requested assistance from the country's Self-Defence Forces. Defence Minister Taro Kono tweeted that a total force of 31,000 troops was formed and about 40 aircraft are in operation to help residents.

Tokyo worked to restore transportation on Sunday as heavy rain and flood warnings were lifted. Subways and most train services in the region resumed operations. Bullet-train service heading west from the capital also was restored, according to Central Japan Railway. Tohoku and Akita bullet-train services in the north also resumed services, NHK said.

While more than 800 domestic flights were cancelled for Sunday as at early morning, both Narita and Haneda airports were operating.

The economic impact from the storm has yet to be determined as companies were forced to suspend operations at stores and factories. Honda Motor Co shut down four factories, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday. Toyota Motor Corp, Nippon Steel Corp and Sapporo Holdings Ltd also suspended operations at some plants.

Retailers, including Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd, resumed operations on Sunday after closing six department stores in the Tokyo area on Saturday.

NTT Docomo Inc said its mobile services were temporarily unavailable or operating on a limited basis in certain areas due to the storm, and the company was working to restore normal services. Mobile services of KDDI Corp and Softbank Corp were also having problems, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a statement as at 12.30pm local time.

Tokyo Disneyland resumed operations at noon and was open until 10pm after closing on Saturday. The theme park will operate as usual on Monday, a public holiday in Japan.

Rugby World Cup organisers decided to go ahead with three out of four games scheduled for Sunday, including a closely watched contest between Japan and Scotland. BLOOMBERG

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