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Severe Rain, Flooding Leave 38 Dead, Scores Missing in Japan

08 July 2018
Severe Rain, Flooding Leave 38 Dead, Scores Missing in Japan

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.

Rivers from Hokkaido to Kyushu have been reported as running at above flood warning levels and the weather agency has warned of further landslides possibly being triggered by the record-levels of rainfall.

Authorities have warned that landslides could strike even if the rainfall diminishes.

Public broadcaster NHK said flooding and landslides were hindering rescue efforts and repeatedly urged people not to lose hope.

"The number of casualties is expected to increase as we are still in the middle of collecting information", Yoshinobu Katsuura, a disaster management official of Ehime prefecture, told Agence France-Presse. Water and electricity supply was also disrupted across large areas, as some 276,000 households suffered outages across 11 prefectures.

A government official told AFP a special crisis cell had been created to respond to the disaster and would hold a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday morning. Japanese soldiers rescued people by boat in Hiroshima, while others were rescued from rooftops by helicopters.

A residential area in Okayama Prefecture, on the main island of Honshu, was seeped in brown water spreading like a huge lake. Kyodo news reported that most people had been rescued in the city by 2 p.m.

In Motoyama, a town in Shikoku island, 583 millimeters (23 inches) of rain fell in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday mornings, the Meteorological Agency said. Some 30,000 people remained in shelters on Sunday, while the evacuation orders and advisories were issued for almost 6 million people, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Rescue workers are seen next to houses damaged by a landslide following heavy rain in Hiroshima, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018.

Elsewhere, work crews tried to clear multiple small landslides that coated roads, rendering them virtually impassable. Also in Ehime, two elementary-school girls and their mother who got sucked into a mudslide were rescued but their hearts weren't beating, it said.

"We had fled to the second floor but then the water rose more, so we went up to the third floor", she said.

A 52-year-old woman in Kyoto was found dead by a river on Friday, while in neighboring Hyogo prefecture a construction worker was swept away by flood waters and died.

Japan's Self Defence Forces dispatched 180 personnel and 50 vehicles to Kyoto as trains across western and central Japan were stopped, including part of one Shinkansen bullet train line.