Rescue workers in Japan continued to search for the missing on Wednesday as the death toll from one of the worst typhoons to hit the country in decades rose to 74, the public broadcaster said. Many people were drowned in the flooding after scores of rivers burst their banks.
As per reports, 12 people remained missing and more than 220 were injured after Typhoon Hagibis swept through the country over the weekend. More than 5,000 people are still in evacuation centers in 13 prefectures, almost a third of them in hard-hit Fukushima Prefecture, 269km (167 miles), north of the capital Tokyo.
Across the country, 13,000 homes were flooded during the height of the storm, while 1,100 were partly destroyed. Throughout the eastern half of the main island of Honshu, 52 rivers flooded.
Weather officials in Japan were quoted as saying that many places that flooded received up to 40 percent of their annual rainfall in just two days. Residents in Fukushima Prefecture, which suffered the highest number of casualties, were busy dumping water-damaged furniture and rubbish onto the streets. Many elderly remained in evacuation centers, unable to clean up their homes.
Survivors in Fukushima described how water rose rapidly to chest-height in about an hour, making it hard to escape to higher ground. “Nobody from city hall has come to check on us yet,” Yoshinagi Higuchi said on Tuesday, as he and his neighbors piled sodden tatami mats and other damaged furniture onto the street.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, promised on Tuesday to take action after reports emerged of the two men being denied entry to the shelter in Taito ward in the capital, Tokyo. Abe earlier said the government would set aside 710 million yen ($6.5m) for disaster relief. He has also proposed using 500 billion yen ($4.6bn) in reserves for the long-term recovery effort.
Abe added, “It’s important to make sure the storm-hit municipalities have enough funds to rebuild their communities.”