Japan Typhoon Hagibis Death Toll, Latest Updates: More Than 100,000 Rescuers Continue Search After Deadly Storm

Hundreds of thousands of rescuers have been deployed as part of relief efforts in Japan after the region was battered on Saturday by Typhoon Hagibis, a powerful storm such as the island nation had not seen since the 1950s.

The storm—whose name means "speed" in Tagalog—had winds of 140 miles per hour when it made contact with the main Japanese island of Honshu around 7 p.m. on Saturday. Though it has since left Japan behind and spun out to sea, the flooding and landslides it caused when it hit some eight prefectures left certain communities devastated.

As of 6 a.m. EDT on Monday, the typhoon had taken at least 40 lives and left at least 16 people missing, according to BBC News. Around 110,000 rescue workers were taking part in search and rescue operations across the country.

The government released a statement saying that the typhoon caused 48 landslides in 12 of Japan's prefectures, according to Al Jazeera English. The government ordered seven million people to evacuate areas that were expected to be hit by the storm.

By Monday morning, the rescue teams included tens of thousands of members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Coast Guard, as well as personnel of local police and fire departments. The Guardian reported that some of the rescuers were tasked with finding people trapped in the upper levels of homes and other buildings in areas that were particularly affected by the typhoon. They also had to dig through the mud and landslides and scan flooded rivers for people who had gone missing.

Typhoon Hagibis Hits Japan
People are rescued by firefighters in an area that was flooded by Typhoon Hagibis on October 14, 2019 in Marumori, Miyagi, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty

In Nagano Prefecture, located in the central part of Honshu, rescue workers had to wear snorkels as they waded in waist-deep water looking for survivors of the flood, according to BBC News.

The situation was particularly severe in Nagano. The banks of two rivers, the Chikuma and Abukuma, flooded and caused waters to rise as high as 13 feet in certain areas, according to the Japan Geospatial Information Authority.

Some residents chose to remain and weather the storm even after evacuation orders were issued. One such resident was 71-year-old Kiyokazu Shimokawa of Nagano.

"I made the mistake of figuring that as long as we were on the second floor of the house, we'd be fine," Shimokawa told Reuters at an evacuation center in Nagano. "When we realized that maybe we should evacuate, it was too late, the water rose very quickly."

Rescue workers eventually found Shimokawa and his family Sunday afternoon after they had been trapped since Saturday, The Guardianreported.

Tokyo, the nation's capital and largest city, survived the storm "pretty much unscathed," according to BBC News. This was attributable to the city's unique flood control system, which cost billions to construct. It reportedly makes use of pipes so massive that an airplane could fit through them to funnel water safely out of the city.

Even so, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said that some 56,800 houses in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures still lacked power on Monday, according to Al Jazeera. Further, Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima and Niigata Prefectures, which are serviced by Tohoku Electric Power Company, still had yet to restore power to over 5,000 homes.

Residents of Tokyo, perhaps spurred in part by the government's strong warnings that compared Hagibis directly to a 1958 typhoon that killed 1200 people, had reportedly prepared for the storm, leaving certain streets "virtually empty" after they stocked up on food and bought tape to protect their windows with.