Friday, 19 October, 2018


Death Toll Exceeds 100 After Heavy Rainfall Slams Japan

Fire fighters helps residents to get off boats in Kurashiki Okayama Prefecture Fire fighters helps residents to get off boats in Kurashiki Okayama Prefecture
Bennie Garza | 11 July, 2018, 08:03

The death toll in western Japan continued to climb on Sunday, after days of unrelenting rain caused severe flooding and triggered landslide warnings.

In the town of Mihara, roads were transformed into muddy flowing rivers, with dirt piled up on either side as flood water gushed around the wheels of stranded cars.

The return of good weather to the heavily flooded Mabicho district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, made it easier for SDF members and firefighters to search for residents trapped in their homes.

These include Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures, where 44, 36 and 25 people have died, respectively. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency is reported to have counted over 30,000 people accommodated in temporary evacuation centres as of Sunday.

Even as the rains let up, authorities warned the downpours had loosened earth on hillsides and mountain slopes creating new risks.

A woman who was reported as missing after getting trapped in her auto was found but was pronounced dead, Kyodo news service reported.

The automaker, which suspended operations at several plants last week, said the halt would continue at two plants until Tuesday because it can not receive components, although both units were undamaged.

Some Hiroshima residents compared it to a similar crisis that resulted in 2014 when heavy rain caused landslides that killed 77 people.

"We've never experienced this kind of rain before", a weather official said. Military paddle boats and helicopters were bringing people to dry land.

At one point, evacuation orders or advisories were issued for up to 5.9 million people in 19 prefectures, according to a tally by Kyodo News.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Self-Defence Force ferried seven oil trucks from Hiroshima to Kure, a manufacturing city whose 226,000 residents were cut off from the rest of the prefecture due to the disaster. More than 1,000 people were left temporarily on building roofs while waiting to be rescued.

Rescue workers acknowledged the odds of finding people alive were getting longer.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the flurry of rainfall that began last week intensified to record-breaking levels over the weekend. Critical infrastructure has been hit, including railway tracks.

During a meeting of the government's crisis response unit in Tokyo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to swiftly provide emergency relief by dipping into reserve funds and bypassing requests from local governments.

President Cyril Ramaphosa sent a message of condolences to the people of Japan on Sunday and said that the thoughts of the South African people are with the people of Japan during this hard time.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said three hours of rainfall in one area in Kochi prefecture reached an accumulated 26.3 centimeters (10.4 inches), the highest since such records started in 1976.

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