Seven people were killed and 15 were missing after the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in decades paralyzed Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK said on Sunday, flooding rivers and leaving almost half a million homes without power.
Authorities lifted rain and flood warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo as the typhoon plowed up Japan’s northeast coast and authorities raced to assess the damage. Warnings for areas north of the capital began to be lifted by Sunday morning.
Typhoon Hagibis was expected to head out to sea on Sunday evening after churning its way up the northern island of Hokkaido.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency meeting of relevant ministers and dispatched the minister in charge of disaster management to the worst-hit areas. He offered condolences to the families of those who died and said the government was working to save people’s lives and property.
“The government will do everything in its power to cooperate with relevant agencies to restore services as soon as possible,” said Abe. The government has also set up a taskforce to deal with the damage, NHK reported.
Ten people were killed in areas including the Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa and Fukushima prefectures surrounding Tokyo, NHK said. Among them was a man in his 60s who was found in a flooded apartment in Kawasaki, it said.
Sixteen people were also missing on Sunday, it said, adding that the full extent of the damage was only beginning to emerge because it was widespread and many areas were still under water.
Some 425,000 homes were without power, the government said, reviving fears of a repeat of the weeks-long power outages suffered after another typhoon hit east of Tokyo last month.
In Fukushima, north of the capital, Tokyo Electric Power Co reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant overnight. The plant was crippled by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
NHK showed swaths of low-lying residential areas inundated in parts of central and eastern Japan by overflowing rivers, with some of the worst damage caused by Chikuma river in central Japan’s Nagano prefecture.
NHK showed military helicopters airlifting stranded residents from homes near the river, after they got trapped by massive quantities of brown water reaching the roofs of their houses. The first floor of a large care home for the elderly in Nagano city was shown under water.
Tokyo was returning to regular life with stores reopening and trains resuming operations. The buzz of rescue helicopters and wailing of fire engine sirens was the main remainder that emergency services were still working to help the residents.