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.
 


Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

Muslims attend Friday Prayers at the Great Mosque of Al Azhar in Jakarta, Indonesia, as government eases restrictions amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, June 5, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 June 2020

Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

  • Mosque capacity reduced to half, with health protocols in place
  • Jakarta remains center of the pandemic in Indonesia

JAKARTA: Mosques in Jakarta welcomed congregations for Friday prayers for the first time after an 11-week shutdown due to coronavirus curbs as the Indonesian capital began to ease control measures.

“I am grateful I can perform Friday prayers again after almost three months,” Ilham Roni, a worshipper at Cut Meutia Mosque in Central Jakarta, told Arab News.

“As a Jakarta resident, I have been complying with city regulations. Now that we can pray again, I follow the health protocols by maintaining social distance, wearing a facial mask and washing my hands (before entering the mosque).”

Mosques are opened by a caretaker 30 minutes before prayer starts and are closed 30 minutes after the conclusion of the congregational prayer.

Caretakers at Al I’thisom Mosque in South Jakarta have been preparing since Tuesday, even before Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced on Thursday that the city is extending its COVID-19 restrictions for the third time since measures came into force on April 10.

The capital is easing lockdown curbs in phases, starting with the reopening of places of worship on Friday, although capacity has been halved and strict health protocols put in place.

“We did not know if we would be allowed to reopen the mosque, but we kept preparing to put out markings just in case, and on Thursday we got the confirmation,” one of the mosque caretakers Sumidi, who goes only by one name, told Arab News.

He said the mosque now can only accommodate 400 worshippers out of its normal 1,000 capacity.

Caretakers have put up markings to keep a 1.2-meter distance between worshippers inside the mosque, while in its parking lot, the distance is maintained at 97 cm. Hand-washing facilities have been installed at the entrance.

The governor did not set a fixed date for the extension to end, although the most likely time frame is until the end of June as the city is in a transition mode throughout the month.

Workplaces and businesses with standalone locations can open from June 8, to be followed by non-food retailers in malls and shopping centers from June 15. Recreational parks will be allowed to reopen on June 21.

“Essentially, all activities are allowed to accommodate 50 percent of their normal capacity and by strictly maintaining social distancing measures. The movement of people has to be engineered to meet this criteria,” Baswedan said during a live press conference. “This is the golden rule during the transition phase.”

"If we see a spike in new cases during this phase, the city administration will have to enforce its authority to halt these eased restrictions. It is our ‘emergency brake’ policy,” Baswedan said.

Jakarta remains the center of the pandemic in Indonesia, although infections in the city no longer account for half or more of the national tally, as has been the case since the outbreak was confirmed in Indonesia in early March.

As of June 5, Jakarta accounts for 7,766 cases of infections out of the 29,521 in the national total, with 524 deaths out of 1,770 who have died in the country.

Baswedan said since the introduction of restrictions in mid-March, the city has seen a significant drop in infections and deaths following a peak in mid-April.

But the transition phase depends on the residents’ continued strict compliance with virus-control measures, he said.

“We will evaluate by the end of June. If all indicators are good, we can begin the second phase,” Baswedan said.

“We don’t want to go back to the way it was in the previous month.”