Fukushima residents after Typhoon Hagibis: ‘We’ve never seen damage like this’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019   •   297

Rescue works are underway in flooded areas in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture, Japan, 13 October 2019. According to latest media reports, at least 26 people have died and more than 20 are missing after powerful typhoon Hagibis hit Japan provoking landslides and rivers overflowing across the country. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

Fukushima residents on Tuesday (October 15) took stock of the damage left in the wake of Hagibis as the death toll of the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 66.

The highest death toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the largely agricultural prefecture.

At least 25 people died in Fukushima, including a mother and child who were caught in floodwaters, NHK said. Another child of the woman remains missing.

Part of Masaharu Ishizawa’s family’s back garden had been washed away, breaking water pipes and electricity lines.

The family was using water carried from a local community center to clean up.

Two doors down, an old house had collapsed after the flood washed its foundations away.

About 133,000 households were without water while 22,000 lacked electricity, well down on the hundreds of thousands initially left without power but a cause for concern in northern areas where temperatures are falling.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliament committee on Tuesday (October 15) that the government is planning to classify the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis as a “catastrophic disaster.” (Reuters)

(Production: Kwiyeon Ha, Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

Japanese probe travels back to Earth with samples of distant asteroid

Robie de Guzman   •   November 14, 2019

Tokyo – Japanese probe Hayabusa2 began its journey back to Earth after collecting samples of a distant asteroid, marking an unprecedented achievement in space exploration, the country’s aerospace agency announced Wednesday.

The probe began maneuvers to leave asteroid Ryugu’s orbit and return to Earth, a distance of 700 million kilometers that would take one year to cover, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tweeted.

If the probe returns without any setbacks, Hayabusa2 will become the first space mission to bring surface and underground samples from extremely distant celestial bodies, contributing to research into the mysteries of the universe, JAXA said.

On Wednesday at 10:05 local time (1:05 GMT), the probe activated its lithium-ion powered engine to lift itself from its orbital location – some 20 kilometers above the asteroid – and begin its return journey.

JAXA provided details of the operation named “Sayonara Ryugu” (Goodbye Ryugu) on its Twitter account and posted pictures taken by Hayabusa2.

According to JAXA’s plan, the probe will pass over Australia towards the end of 2020 and drop a capsule containing sand and rock samples collected from Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 reached the asteroid in 2018 and made two touchdowns this year, in what have been pioneering missions of high technical complexity.

Maneuvers were aimed at retrieving underground samples from an artificial crater on the surface of the asteroid created by a projectile made of the metal tantalum fired by the spacecraft.

Ryugu is located 340 million kilometers from the Earth and its surface is believed to contain traces of coal and water formed during the birth of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.

The samples collected by Hayabusa2 could provide clues to the formation of planets and the origin of life. EFE-EPA
ahg/tk-sc/lds

Japanese firm recalls 1.7M bottles of Craft Boss Tea due to bacillus bacteria

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019

JAPAN – A Japanese beverage manufacturer has ordered the recall of its tea drink following reports that it causes severe stomachache.

The manufacturer, Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, has ordered a recall of around 1.7 million 500ml bottles of ‘Craft Boss Tea’ specifically those marked “best before” August 2020, with blue caps and production facility code of ‘/JJ’.

The company admitted that bacillus cereus bacteria were detected in the said batch of tea drink which causes food poisoning and serious infections in humans.

In October, one customer complained that the tea tasted sour.

After laboratory tests and investigation, Suntory Beverage discovered that microbes were present even in other bottles.

Suntory Beverage vowed to refund its customers for every bottle of Craft Boss Tea Drink returned through a gift certificate corresponding their purchase costs. – MNP (with details from Danny Ticzon Jr.)

Japan, US sympathize with PH as it reels from powerful earthquakes

Marje Pelayo   •   October 31, 2019

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim (L) and Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda (R)

MANILA, Philippines – The governments of Japan and the United States extended their condolences to the victims of the powerful earthquakes that rocked parts of Mindanao.

In a statement, Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda expressed his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and offered his sympathies to all those affected.

“As an earthquake-prone country, Japan fully understands the hardship caused by such natural disasters,” Haneda said.

“We stand in solidarity with the Government and the people of the Philippines,” he added.

Meanwhile, outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim tweeted his message of condolences to the families of the victims in the powerful earthquakes.

“I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the victims of yesterday’s earthquake in Mindanao,” he said.

“To those in affected communities, please stay safe and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you,” he continued.

Strong aftershocks of up to magnitude 6.5 were felt in several parts of Mindanao following the main tremor on Tuesday (October 29).

Since then, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recorded more than 700 aftershocks with strength equal to the main tremor in the same epicenter specifically in Tulunan town, North Cotabato.

As of this writing, search and rescue operations for the missing and relief efforts for the displaced residents are ongoing in the affected areas.

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