Death toll rises to 8 as heavy rains hit typhoon-battered eastern Japan

TOKYO: The death toll from torrential rains that caused flooding and mudslides in eastern Japan rose to eight on Saturday (Oct 26), with a further four missing, public broadcaster NHK reported, just two weeks after the region was hit hard by a powerful typhoon.

Landslides ripped through waterlogged areas in Chiba and Fukushima prefectures, in eastern and northeastern Japan, which were inundated by their third rainstorms in six weeks. In some places, a month’s worth of rain unleashed by a low-pressure system fell in half a day.

Evacuation orders and advisories were issued along much of the northern corridor already hit by two typhoons since last month. The city of Ushiku in Chiba received 283.5mm of rain over 12 hours.

Authorities warned of the chance of further landslides and floods, especially in areas hit by levee breaks that have yet to be repaired after Typhoon Hagibis lashed central and eastern Japan with heavy rains and high winds.

That typhoon killed at least 82 people, with nearly a dozen still missing and more than 300 injured.

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“It has been two weeks since the disaster caused by Typhoon 19 (Hagibis) and the rain has continued to fall intermittently so people to need to take the necessary caution,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a tweet.

Evacuation orders were issued for at least 80,000 people in Chiba, where rivers were rising precariously close to their banks. Most trains services in Chiba were halted, leaving travellers stranded at stations, NHK said.

Parts of Chiba were drenched by 86mm of rain in an hour on Friday morning, with some areas receiving more than a month of rain in one day. Much of Chiba lost power, in some cases for weeks, in Typhoon Faxai in September and then were hit by heavy rains due to Hagibis.

The government also asked 340,205 people to evacuate their homes in Fukushima prefecture because of possible landslides.

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An aerial view shows a Japan Self-Defence Force helicopter flying over residential areas flooded by
An aerial view shows a Japan Self-Defence Force helicopter flying over residential areas flooded by the Chikuma river following Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, central Japan, Oct 13, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Kyodo)

The rain pounded the Tokyo area for much of the day before moving north. Total rainfall in the area around Tokyo was likely to reach around 200 to 300mm by evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Some flights to Tokyo were diverted because of the downpour, NHK said.

Tropical storm Bualoi, which battered the Ogasawara islands south of the main Japanese archipelago on Thursday while still at typhoon strength, was heading out into the Pacific and expected to weaken to a tropical depression later on Friday.