Rural areas isolated after deadly typhoon pounds Japan

Rural communities in northern Japan were cut off Thursday after a powerful typhoon triggered mudslides and flooding in the region, authorities said.

Approximately 1,600 residents were stranded in eight municipalities in Iwate prefecture and local officials were unable to reach the areas as the roads had been damaged by Typhoon Lionrock, which killed 11 people this week.

Many of those stranded were in Iwaizumi Town, where 10 people died. The town has lost contact with 17 residents, many of whom are elderly, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Police discovered the bodies of nine elderly people at a nursing home for people with dementia on Wednesday.

The town failed to issue an evacuation advisory to the area where the facility was located despite repeated warnings from weather authorities about record rainfall in the region.

“Regrettably, we were off guard. If we had issued an evacuation instruction, the victims would have been saved. I'm very sorry," Mayor Katsumi Date said in comments reported by Kyodo.

Iwaizumi received 203.5 millimetres of rain in a day, which exceeded the entire average rainfall for the month of August, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

More than 36,000 residents were urged to evacuate their homes in Iwate with authorities warning of mudslides after the season’s 10th typhoon dumped record rainfall in northern and north-eastern Japan on Tuesday and early Wednesday.

A total of 28 rivers breached levees, inundating cities and towns in the north-east and on the island of Hokkaido.

In Kuji City, where the town centre was inundated, an elderly woman was found dead among rubble on Wednesday.

In Iwate prefecture, some 11,600 households suffered from power outages, according to Tohoku Electric Power.

Authorities intensified their search operations on Hokkaido where three people remained missing after their cars fell into rivers while they were driving.

Typhoon Lionrock tore through north-eastern Japan, the same region that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

It was the first typhoon to make landfall in north-eastern Japan since the agency started compiling comparable data in 1951.

Meanwhile, another typhoon was approaching southern Japan Thursday, the meteorological agency said.

As of 3 pm (0600 GMT), Typhoon Namtheun was 440 kilometres south of Amami Oshima island, travelling north-east at 25 kilometres per hour (kph), with maximum sustained winds of 72 kph and gusts of 108 kph, it said.

The season’s 12th typhoon was projected to hit the southern island of Kyushu on Saturday, the agency said.

Last update: Thu, 01/09/2016 - 11:52
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