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22 Oct 2004 16:25
The death toll from Japan’s deadliest typhoon in more than a decade rose to 77 on Friday as rescue workers digging through sludge from mudslides and flooded rice paddies found 14 more bodies.
Fourteen people were still missing.
Typhoon Tokage, the record eighth typhoon to hit Japan this year, ripped through the country earlier this week with high waves and rapid mudslides, demolishing homes and flooding dozens of communities in western Japan before losing power and disappearing over the Pacific Ocean.
Rescue workers on Friday combed the sea and flooded towns for the missing, feared washed away in the typhoon.
As government officials assessed the financial damage done to homes, crops, and businesses, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters he was ready to allocate public funds to cover repairs if necessary.
“If an extra budget is absolutely needed, we will have to think about it,” Koizumi said, according to Kyodo News service. He told reporters he would decide after reviewing an investigative report submitted by the government.
Monetary damage from typhoons and other natural disasters this year hit an estimated $6,72-billion by mid-October, the Finance Ministry said.
The storms have destroyed so much of the domestic lettuce harvest that on Friday the vegetable was being sold at eight times its price at the beginning of October on the wholesale market, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The death toll rose to 77 as rescuers found four more bodies overnight and 10 additional ones on Friday, the National Police Agency said.
In Osaka, western Japan, a 59-year-old woman was killed after falling into a swollen creek.
In northern Kyoto, a 30-year-old policeman, who went missing after going outside in the storm to check typhoon damage in the neighbourhood, was also found dead.
In Kyoto, western Japan, a rescue crew recovered the body of a 71-year-old man who was reported missing in a mudslide on Thursday.
In the nearby prefecture of Hyogo, the body of a 34-year-old man was dug out from under a mudslide that had crushed his home, and a 66-year-old man was found dead underneath his collapsed house.
At another site in the prefecture, or state, rescue crews recovered the body of a 37-year-old man on a street as floods subsided in the area.
Nationwide, more than 23 210 homes were flooded and hundreds of others ripped apart or buried, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Thousands of people across the country were staying at temporary shelters, officials said.
Workers found on Friday that the storm had also flattened hundreds of pine trees lining the scenic coast of northern Kyoto, Kyodo News reported.
“We extend condolences to the victims of the typhoon, while praying for the safety of those still missing,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said on Friday.
He said the government has set up a task force to support the rescue and clean-up operation, and disaster and land ministers will visit Kyoto and Hyogo, among the hardest-hit areas, later on Friday to observe the damage.
Tokage was the deadliest storm in Japan since September 1988, when 84 people died in a nearly continuous two-week spell of typhoons, said Fire and Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Yoshikazu Nishiwaki.
Japan was still recovering from Typhoon Ma-on, which killed six people earlier this month, when Tokage hit. The country suffered 22 deaths from Typhoon Meari in late September.
This year’s typhoons have far outstripped the previous post-World War II record of six, set in 1990. The storms have left nearly 220 people dead or missing, the largest casualty tally since 1983.—Sapa-AP
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