Ja­pan flood­ing

At least 2 dead, 18 miss­ing af­ter un­usu­ally heavy rain

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

ASAKURA, Ja­pan — At least two peo­ple have been killed and 18 oth­ers are miss­ing in huge floods that are surg­ing through south­ern Ja­pan, with au­thor­i­ties warning hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple to flee.

Un­prece­dented tor­ren­tial rain has caused rivers to burst their banks, sweep­ing away roads and houses, and de­stroy­ing schools.

Thou­sands of sol­diers and other res­cuer work­ers were scram­bling on Thurs­day to reach peo­ple cut off by tor­rents of swirling water or threat­ened by land­slides, as fore­cast­ers warned of worse to come.

“We are in an ex­tremely se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion,” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Taro Aso said, warning of the danger of col­laps­ing hill­sides and adding “many peo­ple are still miss­ing”.

More than 50 cen­time­ters of rain del­uged parts of Kyushu, the south­ern­most of Ja­pan’s four main is­lands, about 12 hours on Wed­nes­day, the me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal agency said.

Down­pours are likely to con­tinue on Friday, the agency said as the re­gion is grap­pling with the af­ter­math of a typhoon that raked the coun­try this week.

Au­thor­i­ties lifted “spe­cial” heavy rain warn­ings for the hard­est hit pre­fec­tures of Fukuoka and Oita, although lesser warn­ings re­mained.

Ja­pan is de­ploy­ing 7,500 po­lice, res­cue per­son­nel and troops in af­fected ar­eas of Kyushu, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said.

“There is a lot of in­for­ma­tion about peo­ple who are un­ac­counted for,” he said, de­clin­ing to con­firm the num­ber of peo­ple miss­ing.

Those in­cluded a child re­port­edly car­ried off by a fast-flow­ing river and a cou­ple who had not been seen since their house was swept away.

A man was found dead in the city of Asakura in Fukuoka pre­fec­ture, pub­lic broad­caster NHK and Jiji Press re­ported, cit­ing po­lice sources.

NHK and Jiji also re­ported that a man died in a land­slide in Hita, in Oita pre­fec­ture, but an official there could not im­me­di­ately con­firm it.

Of­fi­cials said in to­tal they knew of 18 peo­ple who were miss­ing in Fukuoka and Oita.

Tele­vi­sion footage showed rolling waves from swollen rivers hit­ting res­i­den­tial ar­eas, tear­ing up roads and in­un­dat­ing farm­land.

Asakura was among the hard­est hit with footage show­ing flood­wa­ters surg­ing through the streets.

Ry­oichi Nish­ioka, who grows flow­ers in the city, said he tried to save them from dam­age amid fast ris­ing wa­ters the night be­fore.

“I tried to pro­tect them by cov­er­ing them up but couldn’t make it,” he said. “Then the swirling water flooded this area and swept away the green­houses.”

Nish­ioka, 67, also de­scribed help­ing a man who clung to an elec­tric pole as muddy wa­ters ram­paged through the area.

“We had a black­out, so I used a flash­light from the sec­ond floor and put light for him,” he said. “I was call­ing out to en­cour­age him for three hours from 9 pm to mid­night.

“I shouted: ‘Hang in there!’” The man was ul­ti­mately res­cued, Nish­ioka said.

An el­derly man in the hard­hit Haki dis­trict of Asakura told NHK how fur­ni­ture bobbed in the flood wa­ters that in­un­dated his home.

“I dodged them and es­caped in a gush of water,” he said.

A rail­road bridge has been de­stroyed by the rag­ing Kagetsu River, dis­rupt­ing train ser­vices, a rail­way spokesman said.

Sev­eral other train lines were forced to de­lay or stop due to heavy rains, while of­fi­cials called off classes at pri­mary and mid­dle schools.

We are in an ex­tremely se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion. ... Many peo­ple are still miss­ing.” Taro Aso, deputy prime min­is­ter

KYODO VIA REUTERS

Houses and a ve­hi­cle are dam­aged by a swollen river af­ter heavy rain hit the area in Asakura, Ja­pan, on Thurs­day.

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