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TOKYO — Japan woke Sunday morning to flooded rivers and burst levees, as emergency workers employed helicopters and boats to rescue stranded residents from their homes in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis, the largest storm to hit the country in decades.
Rain began falling Saturday and continued through Sunday morning, testing dams, pulling down hillsides, destroying roads and bridges, and driving rivers over their banks. Anticipating massive damage, authorities urged nearly 6 million people to evacuate.
Rescue services jumped into action early in the morning, with helicopters plucking stranded people from balconies and roofs. As of Sunday morning the death toll stood at 10, with 16 people missing and nearly 100 injuries reported, according to public broadcaster NHK. Fatalities were expected to mount as swollen rivers rushed through flooded neighborhoods.
More than 370,000 households were without power and at least 15,000 homes were without water, Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary told reporters, adding that the country was taking every measure to recover.
At least 14 rivers flooded, NHK said, after record-breaking rains. In Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, a levee burst on the Chikuma river, flooding a wide area of Nagano city.
Another four levees across the flood zone had also collapsed, according to NHK and information provided by local governments.
In Fukushima prefecture, where a huge earthquake and tsunami caused the Daiichi nuclear power plant to melt down in 2011, a burst levee flooded the banks of the Abukuma river following heavy rains. Separately, Tokyo Electric Power said it was inspecting the nuclear plant for damage from the heavy rains.
At least 27,000 rescue workers raced to evacuate people from the flood zones, where water reached up to buildings’ second stories and strong currents swept through the streets
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