Rescuers in Japan worked around the clock on Tuesday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors of a powerful weekend typhoon that killed more than 70 people and caused widespread destruction.
Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday, unleashing fierce winds and unprecedented rain that triggered landslides and caused dozens of rivers to burst their banks.
By late Tuesday, public broadcaster NHK put the toll at 74, with around a dozen people missing. The government’s tally was lower, but it said it was still updating information.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there was no plan to slow rescue operations that involved around 110 000 police, coast guard, firefighters and military troops.
“Rescue work and searches for the missing are continuing around the clock,” Abe told parliament.
“Where rivers flooded, work is ongoing to fix spots where banks broke, and water is being pumped out where floods occurred.”
His office said more than 3000 people were rescued in the wake of the disaster, which affected 36 of the country’s 47 prefectures.
The defence ministry has called up several hundred reserve troops – in addition to active duty soldiers – for the first time since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako were “deeply grieving for so many people affected”, an Imperial Household Agency official said.
The royal couple “expressed their sincere condolences for those who lost their lives… and heartily hope that those who are unaccounted for will be found as soon as possible,” the official said.
Despite the scale of the disaster, the government has no plan to delay a palace ceremony and parade to celebrate Naruhito’s enthronement on October 22.