Floods wreak dev­as­ta­tion on Kyushu

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

ASAKURA, Ja­pan — Res­cuers are scram­bling to find more than 20 peo­ple miss­ing after huge floods swept across Ja­pan’s south this week, killing six and leav­ing a trail of de­struc­tion.

Rag­ing rivers over­flow­ing with wa­ter and mud have dev­as­tated swathes of Kyushu is­land after heavy rain­fall, swept away roads and houses and de­stroyed schools.

Thou­sands of res­cuers have been fight­ing through thick mud and bat­tling the rain to search for miss­ing and stranded peo­ple, with more than 1,100 be­lieved to be cut off ac­cord­ing to pub­lic broad­caster NHK.

The gov­ern­ment said on Fri­day that six peo­ple had been killed, while 22 re­main un­ac­counted for.

NHK footage showed res- cuers re­mov­ing the body of a vic­tim from a dam­aged home and heavy ma­chines mov­ing rocks and dirt to clean roads.

A num­ber of fallen trees were shown smashed into houses in the hard-hit Fukuoka pre­fec­ture city of Asakura, which saw more than 50 cen­time­ters of rain in a 12-hour pe­riod to Wed­nes­day night.

Ve­hi­cles could also be seen over­turned or buried in mud and re­in­forced river banks de­stroyed by rag­ing wa­ter. Mil­i­tary trucks and res­cue ve­hi­cles com­peted for space on the city’s streets.

NHK said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were dis­patch­ing he­li­copters to pluck peo­ple out of iso­la­tion, show­ing footage of stranded el­derly res­i­dents be­ing res­cued.

It added that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were rush­ing to re­store ac­cess to re­gions cut off by the land­slides and floods.

In the nearby city of Hita in neigh­bor­ing Oita pre­fec­ture, Masayoshi Arakawa said he had ex­pe­ri­enced heavy rains in the past but this year’s del­uge was un­ex­pected.

“A few years ago I had no prob­lems so I thought that’s how it would go again and so I de­cided to spend the night at my house last night,” he said on Thurs­day at an evac­u­a­tion shel­ter.

“But when I went out to see how it was out­side, I be­came fright­ened.”

The gov­ern­ment’s top spokesman, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga, said that some 12,000 po­lice, mil­i­tary, fire­fight­ers and coast guard per­son­nel were tak­ing part in res­cue op­er­a­tions.

As of Thurs­day, they had re­cov­ered 522 peo­ple, and a fur­ther 15 on Fri­day.

“Heavy rain is fore­cast to con­tinue in­ter­mit­tently,” Suga said, while call­ing for con­tin­ued vig­i­lance.

“I would like peo­ple in the dis­as­ter zone to pay full at­ten­tion to evac­u­a­tion in­for­ma­tion.”

In Hita, Kat­suko Noda was also among those forced to flee her home.

“A neigh­bor came to see me and told me that there was a land­slide and that the wa­ter could reach us, so I took my bag with­out fur­ther de­lay and I came to take refuge here,” she said at the evac­u­a­tion shel­ter.

Heavy rain and land­slide warn­ings re­mained in place on Fri­day.

KY­ODO VIA REUTERS

An el­derly woman is car­ried away by a res­cue worker on Fri­day in the flood-hit Ja­panese city of Asakura.

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