Chiba struggles after typhoon, TEPCO faces flak

People in Chiba Prefecture are dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Faxai, which ripped through the greater Tokyo region on Monday.

The typhoon left much of the prefecture in darkness, and damage to infrastructure that is seriously affecting people's daily lives.

66-year-old Yoshimitsu Ohama told his wife he was feeling hot the day after the typhoon hit. Their power was out, so they couldn't use the air conditioning. Even at night, the temperature inside their home in the city of Ichihara was above 30 degrees Celsius.

Ohama's wife says his face was red, he was sweating profusely, and kept asking when the blackout would end.
Ohama woke up in the middle of the night, Tuesday, and said he wanted a glass of ice water. His wife found him the next day, collapsed in the bathroom. He had died of suspected heat stroke.

66-year-old Yoshimitsu Ohama died of suspected heatstroke in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture.

The storm knocked out electricity for as many as 640,000 residences in the prefecture. Tokyo Electric Power Company's original forecast said all power would be back on Wednesday. But as of 5pm on Friday, more than 180,000 homes were still without electricity.

TEPCO officials now say they're working around the clock, but it will take time to restore the supply to the entire prefecture. Japan's industry minister Isshu Sugawara says it will take more than a week to restore power in some parts of Chiba Prefecture.

TEPCO says about 11,000 workers, including employees from other utility firms, are involved in the restoration work.

Yasuhiro Kumagai, the mayor of Chiba City, has criticized TEPCO for underestimating the scale of the disaster. He says putting an optimistic spin on it is not good for the people who are suffering.

At a news conference on Thursday, TEPCO officials apologized for underestimating the damage and for being too optimistic about restoring power. One official says there are so many trees lying on electric cables, hindering the restoration work, that the company was unable to accurately assess the damage to its facilities.

The extended blackout is the longest since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Friday that it's important to restore electricity as soon as possible. He said that the government will thoroughly investigate the cause of massive power outage and how information was disseminated.