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At least 18 dead, 13 missing after Typhoon Hagibis hits Japan, rescue operation underway

Local residents are rescued by Japapnese Defence-Force soldiers from a flooded area caused by Typhoon Hagibis in Kakuda. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Kawagoe, Japan Oct 13, 2019, 12.34 PM (IST)

At least 18 people were killed and 13 others missing after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, officials said Sunday, as rescuers scrambled to reach people trapped by catastrophic flooding.

The storm's "unprecedented" heavy rain triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks. The destruction forced Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel the third match though the key Japan-Scotland clash will go ahead.

By Sunday morning, the significantly weakened storm had moved back off land, but serious flooding was reported in several areas, including central Japan's Nagano, where a burst levee sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.

Japan's military deployed 27,000 troops to aid rescue operations, including some in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes in Nagano.

In Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, rescue workers in boats were evacuating elderly people from a retirement home that was heavily flooded in the storm.

One woman wearing an orange life vest clutched at rescue workers in hardhats as the boat moved through the muddy floodwaters.

Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7:00pm Saturday as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hour.

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The storm claimed its first victim even before making landfall, when high winds flipped a vehicle, killing its driver.

Landslides and flooding claimed more lives overnight, and the toll climbed higher after sunrise on Sunday, as the scale of the devastation wrought by Hagibis became clear.

'Great impact'

Bodies were retrieved from homes and vehicles submerged by floodwaters, from raging overflowing rivers, and from buildings buried in landslides.

The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and a Chinese crew member aboard a boat that sank overnight in Tokyo Bay.

Four of the crew on board were rescued, but authorities were still searching for another seven.

The government said at least nine people were missing and more than 140 injured in the storm.

"We continue to see a great impact on people's life," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

"The government will do its utmost," he added, pledging to deploy more troops and emergency officials if needed.

More than 160,000 homes were still without power by Sunday afternoon, with around 1,000 in Chiba, east of Tokyo, also experiencing water outages, national broadcaster NHK said.

At the storm's peak, more than seven million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders, with tens of thousands heeding the call and moving into government shelters.

Story highlights

Japan's military deployed 27,000 troops to aid rescue operations, including some in helicopters who winched people from the roofs and balconies of flooded homes in Nagano.