Death toll rises to 126 in W. Japan after flood, rain

Aaron Brown
July 10, 2018

The rains are the deadliest to hit Japan since August 2014, when 77 people died in Hiroshima. The ensuing mudslides destroyed homes and displaced tens of thousands of people, The Japan Times reported.

Temperature of up to 35.9 degrees Celsius was recorded in one city in Oita Prefecture, and Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned those staying in or providing emergency relief in evacuation shelters to be wary of heatstroke.

Abe also cancelled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East as the government stepped up rescue operations, and is reportedly arranging visits to areas hit hard by the massive flooding and landslides that began last Thursday.

In one part of Kumano, the nose of a white auto was just visible underneath the top floor of a home that had been torn from the rest of the building and swept down a hillside.

"Rescue efforts are a battle with time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

"We can not take baths, the toilet doesn't work and our food stockpile is running low", said Yumeko Matsui, whose home in the city of Mihara, in Hiroshima prefecture, has been without water since Saturday.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 54,000 police officers, firefighters, and members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and coast guard had been mobilized in the rescue effort, Kyodo reported. 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. "If the water level drops low enough, they may be able to access hard-hit areas by road or on foot", a spokeswoman at the area's disaster control office said.

"My wife could not climb up the stairs, and nobody else was around to help us out", Katayama told national broadcaster NHK.

Evacuation orders are in place for almost 2 million people, with 276,000 households without water and TV footage showing supermarkets with bare shelves in many affected regions.

Roads were transformed into muddy flowing rivers, with dirt piled up on either side and stranded cars barely withstanding the current flowing around their wheels.

Another resident, 82-year-old Saburo Yokoyama, said he was horrified when he saw floodwater flowing just outside his house. "I've been living this town for nearly 70 years, but it was first time to have such heavy rain".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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