Typhoon Lionrock slammed Japan’s northeastern shores on Tuesday, leading to flooding that killed at least 10 people. The town of Iwaizumi in Iwate Prefecture on the eastern coast of Japan’s main island suffered the most flooding. There, more than 1,100 people evacuated their homes, and the town’s prefecture disaster prevention office reports that at least 400 people have been rescued after being stranded by the rising water. Rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing.
The storm began as a tropical depression more than 10 days ago miles off the southeastern coast of Japan, building strength over time as it traveled northwest toward land. While over the ocean, the storm reached maximum wind speeds of 135 miles per hour, classifying it for a time as a Category 4 Hurricane, but Lionrock lost some of its power before making landfall. Lionrock crossed Japan late Tuesday night and its winds dropped to 35 miles per hour, turning it into a low pressure system.
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Nine of the flood victims were found in the Ran Ran retirement home in Iwaizumi after the nearby Omoto river flooded the single-story structure. Another man’s body was found elsewhere in the prefecture, bringing the current death toll to 10. A second home for the elderly, the Friendly Iwaizumi, was also flooded, but caregivers were able to move residents to the building’s second floor to avoid the rising water, saving their lives.
Four people are missing and some 700 still stranded, according to local officials. The storm system continues to produce heavy rains as it continues on its path, and some parts of northeastern China have already felt the effects. However, with the storm once again so close to land, it is not expected to regain its former hurricane force winds. Still, as many as 26,000 Japanese residents are recommended to evacuate their homes, as further flooding is still possible.
Images via NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team, NASA/NRL and Weather Underground