Deadly storms ravage Japan
Downpours kill dozens, millions urged to flee homes
Record torrential rains across western and central Japan unleashed flooding and landslides in several residential areas, killing dozens and triggering weather warnings in four districts of the country.
By Saturday night, at least 51 people were dead and 48 were missing, according to public broadcaster NHK. More than 1 million people in 18 districts had been ordered to vacate their homes and 3.5 million had been urged to leave.
The Japan Meteorological Agency reported Saturday that rainfall in many of the affected areas had reached record levels — with some areas reporting rain two or three times as high as the monthly average for all of July over just five days.
“This is a record high rainfall which we never experienced,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a Saturday morning ministers’ meeting, urging his Cabinet to take “every measure to prevent the disaster from worsening by taking advance actions.”
More than 48,000 emergency responders are taking part in the searchand-rescue operations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
A man died after falling off a bridge into a river in Hiroshima, and another died after being swept into a canal, NHK reported. A woman was found dead in her house after a mudslide swept through it.
Footage posted to social media, purportedly taken in the town of Takehara in Hiroshima prefecture, shows mud and debris from a landslide strewed across a roadway. Other clips show portions of roads swept into raging rivers.
While the rainfall had lessened by Saturday night, the national weather service warned that flooding could continue in some areas including Gifu, Hiroshima and Shimane. Parts of southern, western and central Japan were still bracing for more.
Landslides demolished the home of a couple in their 80s in the southern city of Kagoshima, the public broadcaster reported, after neighbors said they heard a roaring noise and saw a hillside collapse. The couple is still missing.