This Typhoon was for Real
Saturday, October 23, 2004 Posted: 01:45 PM JST [PHOTOS]
Yesterday I returned home after a 20-hour stay in Toyo-oka, the city in Hyogo that was flooded after a river dam broke. After all the exaggerated reports during previous typhoons many, including myself, discounted the reports in advance of the arrival of the tenth typhoon this year. But this time it was different. This time the media cried wolf, and the wolf actually came.
The damage is almost indescribable. Some 77 people are dead, 14 are still unaccounted for. Almost 300 people were wounded, many of them seriously. More than 20,000 homes were flooded. Typhoon Tokage swaggered through western Japan and destroyed bridges, dams, crops and homes almost everywhere it went.
The power of this typhoon was overwhelming. In the city of Muroto in Kochi Prefecture a 17.79 meter high wave broke through a concrete breakwater and destroyed houses right behind it, killing three. The village of Yasaka in Nagano Prefecture has been completely cut off from the outside world because some 100 mud slides have destroyed all roads leading to it. Food is being ferried in by helicopter. Also in Nagano a train was swept off the tracks.
According to the Cabinet Office the typhoon's death toll is the highest since an October 1979 typhoon that claimed 115 dead or missing. This year already more than 220 people have been killed or gone missing in storms, the largest number since 1983. This year is now also becoming infamous as having most typhoons on record. Ten. The previous record, set in 1990 and 1993, was six.
The damage is stretching the government's ability to deal with it. According to Japan's Finance Ministry, damage from typhoons and other natural disasters this year has exceeded an estimated $6.7 billion. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he may increase the budget. "If an extra budget is absolutely needed," Koizumi said, according to Kyodo News, "we will have to think about it."
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