Severe rainfall leaves dozens dead in Japan

The death toll in western Japan continued to climb on Monday, after days of unrelenting rain caused severe flooding and triggered landslides. The city of Kurashiki and the Hiroshima prefecture are among the affected areas.

The heavy rainfall stemmed from the remnants of a typhoon that hit south-western Japan last week. Since Thursday, landslides and flooded rivers have trapped many people in their houses or on rooftops.

Read more: Extreme weather and us

What we know so far:

  • More than 100 people have died or been presumed dead since Thursday, Japan’s government said Monday. Dozens of people were missing.
  • Around 73,000 police, firemen and soldiers are taking part in the rescue effort.
  • In Kurashiki, 2,310 people have been rescued by authorities and the search still continues.
  • Nearly 2 million people have been asked to evacuate the affected areas.
  • Authorities have warned that landslides could strike even if the rainfall diminishes.
  • Some 276,000 households currently lack water supply, Kyodo news agency reported.
  • Roads were closed and train services suspended in parts of western Japan.
  • Several major manufacturers, including carmakers Daihatsu and Mitsubishi, suspended operations at plants in the affected areas.
    People fill up water bottles from taps

    Local residents in Hiroshima Prefecture receive emergency water from a supply station in Mihara

Government response: The Japanese government set up an emergency management center at the prime minister’s office and has dispatched military, police and firefighters to carry out rescue missions and provide disaster relief.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has canceled a foreign trip that would have taken him to Belgium, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia from Wednesday, according to a ruling party source quoted by Reuters. 

Abe had warned at an emergency government meeting on Sunday that “the situation is extremely serious” and ordered his government to “make an all-out effort” to rescue those affected.

“There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time,” he said. 

Record-breaking rain: Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that three hours of rainfall in one area of Kochi prefecture had reached 26.3 centimeters (10.4 inches), so far the highest rain accumulation since 1976, when the organization began measuring rainfall.

It is the deadliest rain event in Japan since 2014, when at least 74 people died due to landslides that were triggered by torrential downpours in the Hiroshima region.

jcg,nm/ng (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)

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