Japan rescuers seek survivors after Typhoon Hagibis kills 35

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Rescue workers carry a rubber dinghy as they search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, October 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
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A car partially submerged in a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, October 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Police search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, October 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 October 2019

Japan rescuers seek survivors after Typhoon Hagibis kills 35

  • Two Rugby World Cup matches were cancelled because of the storm
  • The typhoon will have a maximum gust of 216km per hour

TOKYO: Tens of thousands of rescue workers were searching Monday for survivors of powerful Typhoon Hagibis, two days after the storm slammed into Japan, killing at least 35 people.
Hagibis crashed into the country on Saturday night, but brought hours of heavy rains even before it arrived, causing landslides and filling 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 on Sunday that put them into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.
More than 110,000 rescuers, including 31,000 troops, worked through the night and into Monday, a national holiday, searching for people trapped by the disaster.
Local media said at least 35 people had been killed, with the Kyodo news agency reporting nearly 20 people were missing. Government figures from Sunday night were lower, though updates were expected on Monday.
While Hagibis, one of the most powerful storms to hit the Tokyo area in decades, packed wind gusts of up to 216 kilometers per hours (134 miles per hour), it was the heavy rains that caused most damage, with 21 rivers bursting their banks.
In central Nagano, a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighborhoods, 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 operation went tragically awry when a woman died after falling while being rescued.

Elsewhere, rescuers used boats during an hours-long operation to retrieve hundreds of people trapped in a retirement home in Kawagoe, northwest of Tokyo, when floodwaters inundated the building.
One elderly woman wearing an orange life vest was carried from a boat on the back of a rescuer. Others were hoisted into wheelchairs and pushed along a muddy shore after arriving by boat.
Rescue efforts were continuing on Monday morning, with local television showing soldiers rowing a rubber rescue dingy through floodwaters in Fukushima, while elsewhere workers removed dirt with a digger.
The death toll mounted throughout the day Sunday as bodies were recovered from flooded homes and cars, buildings caught in landslides, and swollen rivers.
The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and at least five Chinese crew members aboard a boat that sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night.
“Twelve crew were on board. Five Chinese have been found dead,” a coast guard official told AFP.
He said four other crew, from China, Myanmar and Vietnam, had been rescued and search operations resumed at daybreak for the remaining three members.
“We plan to dispatch 11 boats, two helicopters and a dozen divers to the site. We are trying our best,” he added.

On Monday morning, some 57,500 households remained without power, with 120,000 experiencing water outages.
The disaster left tens of thousands of people in shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.
“Everything from my house was washed away before my eyes, I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or real,” a woman in Nagoya told national broadcaster NHK.
“I feel lucky I’m still alive.”
The storm brought travel chaos over the holiday weekend, grounding flights and halting commuter and bullet train services.
By Monday, most subway trains had resumed service, along with many bullet train lines, and flights had also restarted.
The storm also brought havoc to the sporting world, forcing the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers and the cancelation of three Rugby World Cup matches.
But a crucial decider pitting Japan against Scotland went ahead, with the hosts dedicating their win to the victims of the disaster.
“To everyone that’s suffering from the typhoon, this game was for you guys,” said Japan captain Michael Leitch.
 


Islamabad leads the way in defusing tensions with Kabul

Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, held talks with senior Afghan security officials in Kabul following allegations of harassment by diplomats in both countries.
Updated 13 November 2019

Islamabad leads the way in defusing tensions with Kabul

  • The Pakistani Embassy in Kabul said that Afghan intelligence operatives and police have been “harassing” its diplomats and other staffers over the past few days

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to defuse tensions between Islamabad and Kabul following allegations of harassment by diplomats in both countries, the head of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency held talks with senior Afghan security officials in Kabul to resolve the matter, officials said on Tuesday.
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed’s visit follows comments by the Afghan Foreign Ministry (AFM) last week that its ambassador in Islamabad, Atif Mashal, had been “summoned and mistreated” by the ISI, describing the incident as a “clear contradiction of diplomatic norms and principles.”
Pakistan has denied the allegations.
Mashal, who visited Kabul after the incident for consultations with the government, has now returned to Islamabad, an embassy source told Arab News on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a statement released by the AFM on Nov. 4 called on the Pakistani government to “align its diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in compliance with international conventions and accepted diplomatic norms.”
Kabir Haqmal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, said Mohib had met with the ISI chief and Pakistan’s deputy foreign minister on Monday and discussed several issues, including ways to normalize ties.
“The issue of normalizing relations between the two countries and establishment of a technical commission for resolving the current problems ... were discussed,” he said.
The Pakistani Embassy in Kabul said that Afghan intelligence operatives and police have been “harassing” its diplomats and other staffers over the past few days.
Several videos and photographs shared with Arab News appear to show some of the Pakistani Embassy’s vehicles being obstructed.
In retaliation, Pakistan closed its consular section citing “security reasons,” before halting visa operations in Kabul, where hundreds of people visit on a daily basis.
A few days later, Pakistan restarted issuing visas but only to those dealing with a medical emergency.
Commenting on the situation, an Afghan diplomat told Arab News on Tuesday that the embassy was processing visa applications as per routine.
Earlier, Afghanistan had shut its consulate in Peshawar following a dispute over the ownership of an Afghan market, which Kabul says is its property despite Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruling that it was owned by a Pakistani national.
Pakistan Embassy officials said that the Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood had “productive meetings” with Mohib, the Afghan intelligence chief and acting Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman on Monday.

“Recent developments, including the harassment of Pakistan’s diplomatic personnel in Kabul, were discussed. It was agreed to form a technical committee to look into the matter with a view to immediately resolving it,” the embassy said.

“Various aspects of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations came under discussion. Both sides agreed to maintain close communication and identify steps to move forward on relevant issues,” it added.

The two sides also agreed to hold the next meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in Kabul in December, as had been decided at a previous meeting in June in Islamabad.

The APAPPS framework comprises five working groups that are focused on politico-diplomatic, military-to-military coordination, intelligence cooperation, economic and refugee issues.

Pakistan’s former ambassador Asif Khan Durrani said that the visit of Pakistan’s high-level delegation reflects Islamabad’s policy to maintain tension-free relations with Afghanistan.

He added that the recent diplomatic row was not a major issue as Pakistan and Afghanistan have invoked the APAPPS mechanism, which still works.

“Saner elements in both sides do not want the process to derail,” Durrani, who has served as ambassador to the UAE and Iran, told Arab News on Tuesday.

— With inputs from Sayed Salahuddin, Kabul correspondent