Typhoon Hagibis death toll rises to 48

Typhoon Hagibis has caused extensive flooding and triggered dozens of landslides in Japan.
Typhoon Hagibis has caused extensive flooding and triggered dozens of landslides in Japan.

Rescue crews in Japan have dug through mudslides and searched near swollen rivers as they looked for those missing from a typhoon that left as many as 48 people dead and caused serious damage in central and northern Japan.

Typhoon Hagibis unleashed torrents of rain and strong winds on Saturday that left thousands of homes on Japan's main island flooded, damaged or without power.

The riverside town of Hoyasu in hard-hit Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, was covered with mud, its apple orchards completely flooded and homes still without electricity.

Japan's Kyodo News agency reported that 48 people had died from the typhoon, 17 were missing and some 100 were injured.

Experts said it would take time to accurately assess the extent of damage, and the casualty count has been growing daily.

Hagibis dropped record amounts of rain for a period in some spots, according to meteorological officials, causing more than 20 rivers to overflow. In Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, 100 centimetres of rain was recorded over 48 hours.

Some of the muddy waters in streets, fields and residential areas have subsided. But many places remained flooded on Monday, with homes and surrounding roads covered in mud and littered with broken wooden pieces and debris. Some places normally dry still looked like giant rivers.

Some who lined up for morning soup at evacuation shelters, which are housing 30,000 people, expressed concern about the homes they had left behind. Survivors and rescuers will also face colder weather, with northern Japan turning chilly this week.

Rescue efforts were in full force, with soldiers and firefighters from throughout Japan deployed. Helicopters could be seen plucking some of the stranded from higher floors and rooftops of submerged homes.

Damage was serious in Nagano prefecture, where an embankment of the Chikuma River broke.

In Hoyasu, a few vehicles in used car lots were flipped over by the waters that had gushed in, covering everything with mud. Apples swept from the flooded orchards lay scattered in the mud.

Areas in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northern Japan were also badly flooded.

In such areas, rescue crew paddled in boats to reach half-submerged homes, calling out to anyone left stranded.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 35,100 homes were still without electricity early Monday evening in Tokyo and nearby prefectures that the utility serves. That was down from nearly 57,000 earlier in the day.

Tama River in Tokyo overflowed, but damage was not as great as other areas. Areas surrounding Tokyo, such as Tochigi, also suffered damage.

Much of life in Tokyo returned to normal on Monday. People were out and about in the city, trains were running, and store shelves left bare when people were stockpiling were replenished.

Australian Associated Press