Saturday 24 March 2018

22 missing as shocked city assesses flood damage in Japan

Greenhouses submerged in floodwater from the swollen Kinugawa River in Joso. (AP)
Greenhouses submerged in floodwater from the swollen Kinugawa River in Joso. (AP)

The Japanese city of Joso is taking stock of the damage left behind by floodwaters after a rain-swollen rover burst its banks.

The water has receded, but a vast area remains under a sea of brown water after an embankment of the Kinugawa River was breached.

As the sun came out, shocked residents and officials began to count the cost after water poured in so rapidly that many people could only clamber upstairs or to their roofs to escape.

Many houses have been knocked partially off their foundations but the worst-hit are gone, washed away, leaving just the roofs sitting on debris-strewn mud.

Two days of torrential rain caused flooding and landslides across much of Japan this week as Tropical Storm Etau swept through.

At least three people died, including a woman in her 60s who was found after a landslide hit houses in Kanuma city, and a woman in her 40s who was in a car that was washed away in Kurihara city. A third person died in Nikko city, according to Tochigi prefecture.

About 190 miles north of Joso, another river overflowed into the city of Osaki, swamping homes and fields and stranding at least 60 people, according to media reports.

But the hardest-hit place was Joso, 30 miles north east of Tokyo. The fast-rising waters in the city of 60,000 people led to a series of dramatic rescues by helicopters.

Police and other emergency workers fanned out the next morning to search for the missing, while helicopters and boats brought in more of the stranded. More than 280 people have been airlifted out since the flooding began.

City officials said 22 people were missing after they had lost contact following requests for rescue. Three others were injured, one seriously. More than 3,500 people were staying in schools, community centres and other buildings converted to evacuation centres.

All told, 27 people have been injured by the storms in Japan, including three elderly women who were seriously hurt when strong winds knocked them over, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Press Association

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