Tuesday 25 September 2018

At least 38 dead and 50 missing as torrential rainfall hits Japan

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members use a boat to evacuate a resident from a flooded area caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members use a boat to evacuate a resident from a flooded area caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)

Thomas Wilson

At least 50 people were missing and four in critical condition as torrential rain that has killed 38 people pounds western and central Japan, public broadcaster NHK said on Saturday, with more than 1.6 million evacuated from their homes.

Japan's Meteorological Agency retained special weather warnings for three prefectures in the main island of Honshu, down from five, and urged vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong winds amid what it called "historic" rains.

In Motoyama, a town on Shikoku island, about 600 km (373 miles) from the capital Tokyo, 583 mm (23 inches) of rain fell between Friday and Saturday morning, the agency said.

Although a weather front had settled between western and eastern Japan, there was a risk heavy rains would continue as warm air flowed towards the front, it added, with already-saturated areas facing more rain on Sunday.

Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members use a boat to evacuate a resident from a flooded area caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
Residential buildings are partially submerged in floodwaters caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
A rescue helicopter hovers over damaged buildings after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi prefecture, southwestern Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
Residential buildings are damaged by a landslide caused by heavy rains in Sakacho, Hiroshima prefecture, south western Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
People waif to be rescued on the top of a house almost submerged in floodwaters caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Shingo Nishizume/Kyodo News via AP)
Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members use a boat to evacuate a resident from a flooded area caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
Residents are evacuated to a safer place from floodwaters caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
Residential buildings are partially submerged in floodwaters caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
A rescue helicopter hovers over damaged buildings after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi prefecture, southwestern Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
Residential buildings are damaged by a landslide caused by heavy rains in Sakacho, Hiroshima prefecture, south western Japan (Kyodo News via AP)

Among the dead were a man who fell from a bridge into a river in western Hiroshima city, and a 77-year-old man in Takashima, 56 km (35 miles) east of the ancient capital of Kyoto, who was swept into a canal as he worked to remove debris, NHK said.

Four people in Ehime, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures were in critical condition after being injured in landslides, it added.

By Saturday morning, more than 1.6 million people had been ordered to evacuate their homes for fear of flooding and further landslides, with 3.1 million more advised to leave, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said about 48,000 police, firefighters and members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces were responding to appeals for help.

The weather also hit industry. Some automakers halted production as the rain and flooding disrupted supply chains and risked workers' safety, Kyodo news agency said.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp halted operations at one plant because it could not get parts, Kyodo said. Mazda Motor Corp stopped production lines at two plants so employees would not have to travel in hazardous conditions.

Reuters could not reach the firms for comment outside business hours.

Reuters

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