At least 9 dead as typhoon hits northern Japan

2016-08-31 09:35
Driftwood scatters near residential houses along a river in Iwaizumi town, Iwate prefecture, Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

Driftwood scatters near residential houses along a river in Iwaizumi town, Iwate prefecture, Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

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Tokyo – Nine elderly people were killed when their nursing home flooded in northern Japan after Typhoon Lionrock dumped heavy rains on the area.

Japanese broadcaster NHK, quoting Japanese police, said nine bodies were found on Wednesday at a nursing home in the town of Iwaizumi in Iwate prefecture.

Police found the bodies when they were investigating flooding at a nearby facility, NHK said. Its footage showed the nursing home partially buried in mud, surrounded by debris apparently washed down from the mountains. A car by the home was turned upside down.

NHK said many of the residents in the nursing home were suffering from dementia.

At least two rivers swollen by the typhoon have broken through embankments, flooding areas in northern Japan.

NHK, quoting Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Tourism, said the embankments gave way before dawn on Wednesday on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Authorities in the town of Minami-furano are reporting many people trapped in houses and shelters by flooding from the Sorachi river, NHK said.

Aerial photos from Kyodo News service also showed serious flooding south of Hokkaido in Iwate prefecture on Honshu, Japan's main island.

Typhoon Lionrock slammed into northern Japan on Tuesday evening, hitting an area still recovering from the 2011 tsunami.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said at least three people were injured in three northern prefectures – Aomori, Akita and Miyagi since Tuesday.

It made landfall near the city of Ofunato, 500km northeast of Tokyo. It's the first time a typhoon has made landfall in the northern region since 1951, when the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records.

More than 170 000 people were subject to evacuation, including 38 000 in Ofunato, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. More than 10 000 homes in the northern region were without electricity, with power lines damaged from the winds.

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami left more than 18 000 people dead in the wide swaths of Japan's northern coast, including 340 in Ofunato.

At the Fukushima nuclear power plant, decimated by the 2011 disaster, some outdoor decommissioning work was suspended as a precaution.

Read more on:    japan  |  natural disasters

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