20 dead as record Japan rains prompt mass evacuations

Pauline Gross
July 8, 2018

At least two people died, five were reported missing and as many as 1.3 million fled their homes after storms and flooding struck western and central Japan, officials said.

Record levels of rainfall have continued to hit wide swathes of Japan with evacuation orders being issued for more than 170,000 people spanning nine prefectures, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency here said.

In the town of Motoyama, about 600km (370 miles) west of the capital Tokyo, 583mm (23in) of rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning, Japan's meteorological agency said.

The weather agency says heavy rain of up to 70 millimeters per hour is expected through Friday in the Kinki region.

At least 64 people were killed and 44 missing, national broadcaster NHK said after the death toll had been put at 49 overnight.

Torrential rains that saw some parts of western Japan pounded with three times the usual precipitation for a normal July set off landslides and sent rivers surging over their banks, trapping many people in their houses or on rooftops. A 52-year-old woman in Kyoto was found dead by a river yesterday, while in the neighbouring region...

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the whereabouts of 92 people are unknown, mostly in the southern area of Hiroshima prefecture.

"The situation is extremely unsafe", wrote a Twitter user in Kochi, a city on the smallest main island of Shikoku, where the rain has been especially intense.

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TV footage showed crews in military trucks delivering emergency water supplies to areas where water infrastructure was down, while troops in boats helped people and pets safely reach dry land.

The official toll includes one person killed last week, when the typhoon system that brought the heavy rains first made landfall in Japan, but most of the deaths have been reported in the last few days.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned "the situation is extremely serious" and ordered his government to "make an all-out effort" to rescue those affected.

"We are doing our best".

A woman in the Ehime prefecture was found dead on the second floor of a property hit by a landslide, according to news agency reports. "My body temperature has lowered".

Throughout the affected areas, parked cars sat in pools of water.

The Japan Meteorological Agency had issued emergency warnings about the potential for severe flooding and landslides, warnings only issued when it anticipates the sort of extreme conditions that occur just once or twice in 50 years.

Other reports by GizPress

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