Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Toll in record Japan rains rises to 44

Toll in record Japan rains rises to 44

Torrential rains that saw some parts of western Japan pounded with three times the usual precipitation for a normal July set off landslides and sent rivers surging over their banks, trapping many people in their houses or on rooftops.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said three hours of rainfall in one area in Kochi prefecture reached an accumulated 10.4 inches, the highest since such records started in 1976, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities warn landslides can strike even after the rain subsides as the calamity is shaping up to be potentially the worst in decades.

"Rescues, saving lives and evacuations are a race against time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said as he met a government crisis cell set up to respond to the disaster.

Two people are missing and may have been buried in a landslide Friday morning in Fukuoka Prefecture, local police said.

"We are carrying out rescue operations around the clock", Yoshihide Fujitani, a disaster management official in Hiroshima prefecture, told AFP. The city of Kurashiki and the Hiroshima prefecture are among the affected areas. Some people perched on rooftops called for help and others clung to trees while waiting to be rescued.

In Okayama Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas, rescue efforts continued for more than 1,000 people trapped on the roofs of buildings submerged by floods following the burst of a dike in a river. Kyodo news reported that most people had been rescued in the city by 2 p.m.

Japan Ground Self-Defence Force rescues residents from a flooded area in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, on July 7, 2018 after record rainsfall hit western Japan. A rescued woman told NHK television, "We had fled to the second floor but then the water rose more, so we went up to the third floor". "In fear of heavier downpours, we've issued emergency warnings in areas where the amount of rain hasn't exceeded the standards of such a warning system", a JMA official explained.

Roads remain flooded and damaged across western Japan, with some communities still cut off. Railways have been also affected by the disastrous weather, with many bridges washed away and tracks inundated, according to local media.

An overturned auto remains on a street after heavy rain in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

Among the dead was a 3-year-old girl whose home was hit by a landslide in Hiroshima prefecture, Reuters reported.

Evacuation orders remain in place for some two million people and another 2.3 million were advised to evacuate, although rain has stopped and floodwaters have retreated in some areas.

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.

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