Over 70 killed, more than 200 injured after Typhoon Hagibis slams Japan

Adriana Navarro

The death toll continues to climb as parts of Japan remain inundated several days after Hagibis, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country in years, made landfall in central Honshu.

At least 74 people have died in the chaos that Hagibis brought, 14 remain missing and 210 were injured, according to public broadcaster NHK.

A 50-year-old man died when his car overturned in high winds in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo on Saturday, according to Reuters. Four others were injured in the prefecture when high winds ripped roofs off homes. Raging floodwaters and mudslides were among some of the causes of death.

During one rescue operation in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture, a woman in her 70s was accidentally dropped 131 feet in an effort to transport her into a rescue helicopter, the AP reported. In a news conference, department officials publicly apologized and acknowledged she had not been strapped in properly, the AP said.

Jiji reported that as of Monday, more than 32,000 homes remained without power.

More than 6 million people had been advised to evacuate ahead of Typhoon Hagibis, according to the Kyodo News. As of noon Tuesday, 360,000 remained under evacuation orders.

Many of the hardest-hit areas continue to clear debris or remain underwater as of Tuesday. Aerial imagery showed neighborhoods and train depots submerged while many roads were littered with debris.

Typhoon Hagibis made landfall over Japan just before 7 p.m. local time on Saturday, moving ashore near Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture, packing winds of the equivalent strength as a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basins. (Image/NASA EOSDIS Worldview)

As AccuWeather predicted, one of the biggest issues with Hagibis was flooding rainfall.

At least 52 rivers flooded due to the heavy rain, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The floodwaters inundated several neighboring cities and towns, forcing people from their homes. Around 5,500 people remained in shelters as of Tuesday.

NHK reported that a record level of nearly 1,000 mm of rain, or close to 39 inches, from the storm had fallen over Hakone Town in the Kanagawa Prefecture over a time span of 48 hours.

The Japan Meteorology Agency issued level 5 heavy rain emergencies - the highest level of warning in the JMA's five-level warning system - across at least seven prefectures during the height of the storm.

"Reports of rainfall totals between 6 and 12 inches, or 152 and 304 mm, were common across Kansai, Chubu and Kanto, but locally higher amounts have been reported in higher elevations of the mountains," AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly said. "Chichibu reported 20.11 inches, or 511 mm, of rainfall through Saturday night."

Observations from Tokyo recorded 209 mm (8.23 inches) of rainfall and a max wind gust of 150 km/h (93 mph).

The heavy rainfall also caused at least 140 mudslides across the country damaging buildings and making roadways impassible.

Residents Kazuo Saito, right, and Sumiko Saito clean up their home Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Kawagoe City, Japan. Typhoon Hagibis dropped record amounts of rain for a period in some spots, according to meteorological officials, causing more than 20 rivers to overflow. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Early Sunday morning, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government decided to apply the Disaster Relief Law to the 25 wards and municipalities of Tokyo due to the damage caused by Hagibis, the news source said.

This means that government and city aid will pay for the installation of evacuation shelters and emergency repairs for damaged homes.

The Japan government stated it will designate Hagibis as a "severe natural disaster" freeing up more funds for disaster relief.

While it had still been churning in the West Pacific, Hagibis had rapidly strengthened to become the third super typhoon of the season. The storm went from a tropical depression with sustained winds of 48 km/h (30 mph) to a super typhoon producing winds of 241 km/h (150 mph) only 48 hours later.

At a peak strength of 257 km/h (160 mph), the typhoon tied with Wutip from February as the most powerful tropical cyclone in the West Pacific basin this year.

Although the Japan Meteorological Agency had downgraded the status of the storm to a "strong" typhoon before landfall in Japan, the agency had warned in a news conference during that Friday morning the storm could be as severe as the Kanogawa Typhoon, which had killed more than 1,200 people in 1958 and is one of the deadliest typhoons on record, the New York Times reported.

Hagibis had made landfall in Japan just before 7 p.m. local time on Saturday, Oct. 12, moving ashore near Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture while packing winds of the equivalent strength as a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basins.

The storm gradually weakened as it tracked across the east coast of Japan. By 5 a.m. local time on Sunday, the JMA had downgraded the scale of Hagibis from a "large and strong" typhoon to a "large" typhoon with maximum sustained winds of about 70 mph and gusts of about 98 mph.

As the storm moved away from Tokyo around 6 a.m. Sunday, transportation operations such as the Haneda Airport were beginning to resume once again. By 2 p.m. Sunday, the storm had moved off the eastern coast of Japan and had been downgraded to a low pressure system.

Occasional showers will occur across areas hit hardest by Hagibis into Wednesday. However, heavy rainfall may return to these locations from Friday into Saturday, renewing flooding problems.