Abe visiting flood-hit western Japan as deaths reach 176

Pauline Gross
July 11, 2018

Search efforts continued in hardest-hit Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures, as well as their neighboring areas despite the elapse of the crucial 72-hour period, after which the odds of finding survivors decreases significantly.

The rain began late last week as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front‚ with humid‚ warm air from the Pacific making it still more active - a pattern similar to one that set off flooding in south-western Japan exactly a year ago that killed dozens.

Japan was hit with heavy rainfall this weekend, forcing over two million people to leave their homes and leaving a rising death toll in its wake.

Over 10,000 people were still in shelters across large parts of central and western Japan, local media said, including at a school in the town of Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture.

Most of the deaths in hard-hit Hiroshima were from landslides in areas where homes had been built up against steep slopes, beginning in the 1970s, said Takashi Tsuchida, a civil engineering professor at Hiroshima University.

In Kurashiki, the receding floods have left a layer of silt on everything that was underwater.

With more heavy rain is forecast to hit some areas for at least another day, nearly five million people have been ordered or advised to leave their homes. "We were hoping to find two people but still can't find one".

The rains are the deadliest weather disaster in Japan since two typhoons that hit back-to-back in August and September 2011, killing almost 100 people.

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Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that at least 156 people had been killed.

"I forgot to bring it with me", he said.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the government would start dispatching the Disaster Health Emergency Assistance Team (DHEAT) from Thursday at the request of the Okayama prefectural government to support hygiene control at evacuation centers.

A man gets home over a flooded river in Saka, Hiroshima prefecture on July 8, 2018.

Abe, who cancelled an overseas trip to deal with the disaster, has been criticised after a photograph circulated on Twitter showing him and his defence minister at a party with lawmakers just as the rains intensified.

A new evacuation order went out today in a part of Hiroshima prefecture, after a river blocked by debris overflowed its banks, affecting 23,000 people. Water and other relief supplies were scarce in some areas.

"It will be over 35 Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas".

The government monitors weather conditions and issues early warnings, but the nation remains vulnerable to disasters because much of the country outside major cities is mountainous and construction takes place on virtually every bit of usable land.

Other reports by GizPress

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