NEWS

Typhoon Hagibis: Fijian Tells Of Night Of Terror

For six hours Joseph Sharma endured the full fury of Typhoon Hagibis in a dark room in Chiba, Japan
14 Oct 2019 11:37
Typhoon Hagibis: Fijian Tells Of Night Of Terror
A flooded Noda City of the Chiba Prefecture, Japan PHOTO: Joseph Sharma

Joseph Sharma hunkered down in his flat in Noda City for six hours as Typhoon Hagibis pounded Chiba prefecture in Japan on Saturday night.

The Fijian automotive engineer said: “This typhoon was worse and more frightening than the cyclones in Fiji.

“You see trees going down, vehicles flying around and power lines snapping, I’ve never seen anything like that.

“And being far away from home, it was a scary experience, I don’t want to go through it again.”

Mr Sharma, 29, is based in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture.

He is there alone. His family lives in Wailekutu, Lami.

Chiba was one of the worst-hit prefectures. Last night Japanese authorities confirmed that at least 18 people have died, 13 are missing and at least 149 are injured.

Joseph Sharma, 29, wearing a protective helmet to protect himself from flying debris while checking the cars in the yard and surrounding in Noda City, Chiba, Japan on October 13, 2019.

Joseph Sharma, 29, wearing a protective helmet to protect himself from flying debris while checking the cars in the yard and surrounding in Noda City, Chiba, Japan on October 13, 2019.

The dead were from Kanagawa, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Chiba and Saitama prefectures.

Yesterday Mr Sharma’s mother Naina Sharma, 50, was relieved when she finally heard and saw her son through a video call.

However, on Saturday night, there was no communication from him.

“I really panicked, I was so worried because he is far away from home. I did not sleep well on Saturday night, I was so worried and crying till this morning.

“When I woke up, I just sat out on my porch and kept thinking about him.”

Mrs Sharma finally got to hear her son’s voice yesterday morning at around 9 am.

“Oh, everything is okay, Mum. Don’t worry the weather is changing slowly again,” he reassured her.

Mr Sharma said he packed an emergency bag after numerous warnings were issued by local authorities.

“We were told to take precautionary measures, or evacuate to the evacuation centres and about 6 pm on Saturday we were told not to move around because flooding had started.

“And then the news came in that the typhoon was accompanied by a tornado and in between an earthquake.

“I was lucky my building was not damaged, but the surroundings were partially damaged.”

Mr Sharma said he was lucky that he did not live on the ground floor of the apartment. All were submerged in water.

Yesterday afternoon his attempts to contact two Fijian friends were futile because of power outages and network problems. No reports have been received from other Fijians working and studying in the affected areas.

Mr Sharma’s wife, Makereta, daughter Naina and son Martin were all smiles after receiving Mr Sharma’s call yesterday.

Seated on top from left: Joseph Sharma’s wife, Makereta and children Martin, 5, and Naina, 7, mother, Naina and brother, Nicholas (seated bottom) at their home in Wailekutu, Lami. Photo: Jennis Naidu

Seated on top from left: Joseph Sharma’s wife, Makereta and children Martin, 5, and Naina, 7, mother, Naina and brother, Nicholas (seated bottom) at their home in Wailekutu, Lami. Photo: Jennis Naidu

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting with relevant ministers to mobilise resources.

He said that with respect to blackouts, water outage and suspension of transportation services, Government would exert all efforts for the earliest recovery.

Rescue operations were underway in central, eastern and northeastern regions that were hit by floods and landslides.

The Defence Ministry has mobilised some 27,000 Self-Defence Force personnel for rescue and relief operations across the country.

The storm’s heavy rains triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedbackjennis.naidu@fijisun.com.fj

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