Tens of thousands of rescuers worked through the pre-dawn hours Monday to reach people trapped by landslides and floods in Japan caused by a powerful typhoon that has killed up to 35, officials and local media said.
Typhoon Hagibis moved away from land on Sunday morning, but while it largely spared the capital, it left a trail of destruction in surrounding regions.
More than 100,000 rescuers — including 31,000 troops — clawed through debris overnight Sunday to Monday to reach people trapped after torrential rain caused landslides and filled rivers until they burst their banks.
The destruction forced the Rugby World Cup being hosted by Japan to cancel several games, but the “Brave Blossoms”, as the national team is known, lifted spirits with a stunning 28-21 victory over Scotland Sunday that puts them into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.
The government put the death toll at 14, with 11 people missing, but local media said at least 35 people had been killed, and at least 11 were still unaccounted for.
Rivers overflowed their banks at close to dozen locations — including in central Japan’s Nagano, where a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor.
Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima one rescue went tragically awry when a woman died after falling from a chopper cradle.
Elsewhere, rescue workers carried out an hours-long boat operation to evacuate hundreds of people from a retirement home in Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, which was flooded up to its top floor.
One elderly woman wearing an orange life vest was brought out from a boat on the back of a hard-hat wearing rescuer. Others were hoisted onto wheelchairs and pushed along a muddy shore on arrival by boat.
Hagibis smashed into the main Japanese island of Honshu on Saturday night as one of the most violent typhoons in recent years, with wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) per hour.