Tuesday 28 January 2020

Dozens still missing after deadly Japanese floods

Hundreds more people were injured after heavy rainfall struck the south-west of the country.

This photo shows an submerged housing area in Kurashiki, Okayama (AP)
This photo shows an submerged housing area in Kurashiki, Okayama (AP)

By Haruka Nuga and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Rescuers in south-western Japan have recovered more bodies as they search for dozens of people still missing after heavy rains caused severe flooding and killed more than 100 people.

The fire and disaster management agency said 108 people were confirmed dead as of Monday night.

Officials and media reports said at least 80 people were still unaccounted for, many of them in the hardest-hit Hiroshima area.

Rescuers search for missing people in Kumano town, Hiroshima prefecture (Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News/AP)

The Japan Meteorological Agency said as much as 3in of rain fell per hour on large parts of the south-western region. All rain warnings have now been lifted.

The assessment of casualties has been difficult because of the widespread area affected by the rainfall, flooding and landslides since late last week.

Authorities warned that landslides could strike even after the rain subsides. Officials in Ehime prefecture asked the central government to review weather warning systems, noting that rain warnings were issued after damage and casualties were already reported, a possible cause of the devastation in the region.

Rescuers prepare to start a search for missing people at the site of a landslide in Kumano town, Hiroshima prefecture (Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News/AP)

Some homes were smashed, while others were tilting precariously. Rivers overflowed, turning towns into lakes and leaving dozens of people stranded on rooftops. Military paddle boats and helicopters helped bring people to the ground.

In large parts of Hiroshima, water streamed through a residential area, strewn with fallen telephone poles, uprooted trees and mud.

Thousands of homes were without clean water and electricity in Hiroshima and other hard-hit areas, where many people lined up for water tanks under the scorching sun, with temperatures rising as high as 34C.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cancelled his planned July 11-18 trip to Europe and the Middle East to oversee the emergency response.

Mr Abe said earlier that the government had dispatched 73,000 troops and emergency workers for the search and rescue effort. “The rescue teams are doing their utmost,” he said.

PA Media

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