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  • Firefighters patrol on a flooded road due to heavy rains caused by Typhoon Hagibis at Ota ward in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo

    Firefighters patrol on a flooded road due to heavy rains caused by Typhoon Hagibis at Ota ward in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 October 2019

“Damage from floods and landslides is likely taking place already,” an agency official told a news conference carried by NHK

The most powerful typhoon to hit Tokyo in decades plowed into northern Japan early on Sunday after fierce rain and wind paralyzed the capital, led to four deaths, millions under evacuation warnings, rivers flooded and normally busy streets deserted.

Authorities lifted rain and flood warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo before dawn on Sunday but imposed them on areas further north after Typhoon Hagibis blasted through the capital.

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Attention focused on Fukushima, where Tokyo Electric Power Co overnight reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Three people died in Chiba, Gunma and Kanagawa prefectures surrounding Tokyo, while a man in his 60s was found with no vital signs in a flooded apartment in Kawasaki, public broadcaster NHK said. Seventeen were missing early Sunday, it said.

A 50-year-old man was killed near Tokyo early on Saturday in a car overturned by punishing winds, while another person died after being washed away in a car, public broadcaster NHK said. Nine people remain missing in landslides and flooding, it said.

Authorities issued evacuation advisories and orders for more than 6 million people across the country as the storm unleashed the heaviest rain and winds in years. Some 80 injuries have been reported so far, while more than 270,000 households lost power, NHK said.

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

Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu on Saturday evening. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook Tokyo shortly after.

Major shinkansen bullet trains from Tokyo would begin on schedule Sunday, NHK said.

Even as the typhoon moved away from the capital late on Saturday, one expert warned of further flooding as several surrounding prefectures began releasing water from dams, letting it flow downstream.

“The situation is now worse than this evening,” Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, director of the Japan Riverfront Research Center, told Reuters. About 1.5 million people in Tokyo live below sea level.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 prefectures, warning of the potential for once in decades rain totals. It lifted the alerts early Sunday.

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

Just last month, another strong storm, Typhoon Faxai, destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses in Chiba, east of Tokyo, and caused extensive power outages.

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