Typhoon Hagibis

Leslie Chen, Staff Writer

On Oct. 11, Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, and left a trail of destruction behind it. Although typhoons are not uncommon in Japan, Hagibis is already one of the deadliest and most disastrous typhoons the country has seen in decades. Thousands of residents remain without power or water, and temperatures hover around freezing.

For many Japanese citizens, the effects of the storm will be felt for many weeks ahead. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office, Hagibis has brought “record-setting heavy rains and windstorms.” Many areas, such as Hakone (southwest of Tokyo), received up to 40% of their annual rainfall in just two days. Hundreds of thousands of households are left without power; severely affected areas could remain without electricity for weeks. Additionally, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, the heavy rain and strong windstorms caused over 140 landslides and over 40 rivers to flood across the country, killing multiple people. Satellite imagery released by Japanese authorities showed houses and farmland completely submerged in murky, brown water.

Japan’s official national broadcaster NHK reported that over 70 people have died from the typhoon thus far. Hundreds more remain either missing or injured. Experts say that it would take time to accurately assess the death toll and damage caused, and the casualty count may be higher than initially reported.

In fact, all of this damage is setting Hagibis on course to being one of the costliest natural disasters to hit Japan, with an astounding $9 billion in insured losses. 

In a parliamentary session with his budgeting committee, Abe said that the government would draw on a $4.6 billion special reserve to pay for the costs from the storm. “It is urgent to provide adequate support for the victims,” he told reporters. “There are concerns that the impact on life and economic activities will be prolonged.” Abe also reassured everyone that rescue efforts and missions were “continuing around the clock.”

Some industries, such as agriculture and transportation, were hit hard following the storm. Hagibis has led to numerous widespread transport disruptions, with bullet trains, flights, and other means of transport being cancelled. In fact, one-third of the country’s bullet trains are completely submerged.

With the death toll and costs rising up, it’s unclear how much damage Hagibis has caused, and how long its impact will be. 

Photo courtesy of CNN.COM