Surging flood water and mud brought by a devastating typhoon killed nine people in a retirement home in Japan, officials said yesterday, after the third storm in two weeks ripped through the country.
The bodies were discovered in a riverside care complex half buried in mud, uprooted trees and rubble after Typhoon Lionrock dumped torrential rain over a wide area.
TV news showed a helicopter hovering over the building in Iwaizumi on the island of Honshu, as rescuers tried to pluck stranded residents to safety.
A disaster official said the nine elderly people had died as a result of mud that swamped the facility.
“The nearby Omoto River flooded and lots of water mixed with mud, trees and rubble gushed into the building complex,” he said.
The nine people were buried in mud inside the building.
They were the only people in that building.
Media reports said the building was reserved for people with dementia and another 86 elderly residents and employees had been in another building at the time.
The death toll from the typhoon rose to 11 after an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded home nearby, and another body was discovered not far from the nursing home.
Aerial footage showed a broad swathe of flooded land, with parked cars half-submerged in murky water.
Lionrock slammed into northern Japan on Tuesday evening, dumping heavy rain that caused flooding and power outages.
The typhoon, with winds of over 160km/h when it made landfall, also caused flooding on the northern island of Hokkaido.
The typhoon was later reclassified as an extratropical cyclone and moved out into the Sea of Japan at midnight, eventually moving near the North Korea-China border.
The full scale of damage, however, did not become apparent until daybreak when rescue operations began in earnest.
The nation’s fire and disaster management agency said at least five people were missing in northern Japan following the storm.
In Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, one person who had been inside a car was missing in the town of Taiki, police said.
Two other people were separately missing in Hokkaido, while another two were unaccounted for in Iwaizumi, officials said.
“In Minamifurano town, the water level is still very high with a current, and rescue workers are using helicopters now to try to evacuate several people who are left on the roofs of their houses or their cars,” an official said.
Lionrock’s path – hitting northeastern Japan from the Pacific Ocean – was unusual.
Typhoons usually approach Japan from the south and southwest before moving northward.
Up to 80mm of rain an hour fell overnight and authorities had warned of flooding and landslides.
The typhoon’s landfall came at high tide, which exacerbated the flow of water.
Lionrock comes on the heels of two other typhoons in the past 10 days that hit eastern and northern Japan.