11 killed, at least 45 missing as torrential rain pounds Japan

08 July, 2018, 02:28 | Author: Carlos George
  • People look at the swollen Kamo River in central Kyoto western Japan following heavy rain

A kimono-clad woman using a smartphone takes photos of swollen Kamo River, caused by a heavy rain, from Shijo Bridge in Kyoto, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2018.

Local authorities said on Saturday a total of 20 people were killed in rain-related accidents, while public broadcaster NHK said the death toll had risen to 38 with 50 others unaccounted for.

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

A woman who had gone missing after leaving her home in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, in her vehicle was found dead in a river in Nose, Osaka Prefecture, on Friday.

By Saturday morning, more than 1.6 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes amid fears of flooding and further landslides, with a further 3.1 million advised to leave, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Agency official Minako Sakurai told reporters heavy rain was forecast to continue until Sunday in western and eastern Japan.

In Hiroshima Prefecture, 41 people were missing, while seven remained out of contact in Ehime Prefecture.

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In Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture, five were confirmed dead due to the torrential rain, including people swept away in a vehicle.

Some areas have been hit by more than a metre of rainfall, according to the government, while around 48,000 Self-Defense Force members, police and firefighters have been deployed for rescue operations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

The unprecedented downpours have wreaked havoc primarily in the west of the country, with flash floods and landslides leaving dozens more missing in addition to those killed.

The JMA issued an emergency heavy rain warning in Gifu Prefecture on the afternoon of July 7 while lifting such a warning in Tottori Prefecture.

Video from Okayama showed brown water engulfing residential areas with some people fleeing to rooftops and balconies, trying to catch the attention of hovering rescue helicopters. Some automakers halted production as the rain and flooding disrupted supply chains and risked workers' safety, Kyodo news agency said.

Almost 50,000 members of the military, police and firefighting services were taking part in searches for people trapped, wounded or dead as a result of the floods, reported the Japan Times.

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