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Cold snap, more rain raise fears in typhoon-hit Japan

16 October 2019 15:35

TOKYO. KAZINFORM Cold temperatures on Wednesday and rain that is expected in the coming days are feared will take a further toll on areas of northeastern Japan and elsewhere that are still reeling from the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

As temperatures dropped to the lowest this season on Wednesday morning in many parts of Japan, rescuers continued to search for more than a dozen people still missing after the most powerful typhoon in decades swept the country on the weekend, Kyodo News reports.

Fears for the missing people's safety have increased, however, as the 72-hour period after a disaster that is considered critical for finding survivors has elapsed.

Fatigue has begun to plague evacuees and people cleaning up their homes and stores after they were flooded by muddy water. The Cabinet Office said some 4,400 evacuees remained in 188 shelters as of Wednesday morning.

«Thinking of my muddied home makes me cry,» said Itoe Matsuzawa, 80, who was taking shelter at an evacuation center in the city of Nagano. «I want to return to my normal life, quickly.»

«I haven't slept,» said barber Atsushi Wakatsuki, 50, who has been cleaning up his shop in the city with the help of his barber friends. «There is a limit to what my family can do. I am thankful (for their help),» he added.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of heavy rain from Friday through Saturday in northeastern and eastern Japan.

To deal with the aftermath of the devastating typhoon, Japan decided Wednesday to disburse about 710 million yen ($6.5 million) from reserves in the fiscal 2019 budget.

The central government said the funds will be used to set up temporary toilets and send necessities such as water, food and cardboard beds to shelters in central, eastern and northeastern parts of the country flooded by the record-breaking rainfall over the weekend.

Officials said the government is considering earmarking a larger share of its reserves for disaster relief and crafting a supplementary budget.

At least 74 people were killed by Typhoon Hagibis and more than a dozen remain missing, according to a Kyodo News tally based on official information collected from each region.

Speaking at the House of Councillors Budget Committee, Abe reiterated a government plan to survey affected regions and determine whether they could be designated as suffering from a serious disaster, which would trigger further subsidies for recovery efforts.

«We will make the utmost effort so the disaster victims can return to their lives without worries as soon as possible,» he said.

As Japan has been hit by a number of natural disasters in recent years -- including Typhoon Faxai in September, which devastated wide areas of Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, and torrential rain in western Japan last year, which left more than 200 people dead -- Abe said he aims to create a «land that is strong and resilient against disasters» in the long run.

The northeast, devastated by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was especially hard hit by the latest typhoon -- with a death toll of 26 in Fukushima, the highest among Japan's 47 prefectures -- after the Abukuma River burst its banks.

A major search-and-rescue operation continued in Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, through which the Abukuma runs and where the deaths of five people have been confirmed. Officials said the river's water level reached as high as 23 meters.

The infrastructure ministry has confirmed collapsed embankments at 79 locations along 55 rivers as of 5 a.m., up from 74 announced Tuesday, as it continues to assess the extent of the damage.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said it plans to set up a panel of experts to study damage along seven state-controlled rivers that flooded neighboring areas.

The panel plans to draw conclusions in a few months as to why river embankments collapsed, and how to rebuild to ensure there is no repeat of the disaster.

The seven rivers include the Abukuma, the Chikuma in Nagano Prefecture and the Yoshida in Miyagi Prefecture.

Keywords: World News,