200K without water
Japan Japan faces frequent disasters, toll hits 200
KURASHIKI, Japan, July 12, (Agencies): Japan risks more severe weather and must find ways to alleviate disasters, a government spokesman said on Thursday, as intense heat and water shortages raised fear of disease among survivors of last week’s floods and landslides.
Torrential rain in western Japan caused the country’s worst weather disaster in 36 years, killing 200 people, many in communities that have existed for decades on mountain slopes and flood plains largely untroubled by storms.
But severe weather has been battering the country more regularly in recent years, raising questions about the impact of global warming. Dozens of people were killed in a similar disaster last year.
“It’s an undeniable fact that this sort of disaster due to torrential, unprecedented rain is becoming more frequent in recent years,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.
Saving lives was the government’s biggest duty, he said.
“We recognise that there’s a need to look into steps we can take to reduce the damage from disasters like this even a little bit,” he said.
He did not elaborate on what steps the government could take.
More than 200,000 households had no water a week after disaster struck and many thousands of people were homeless.
With temperatures ranging from 31 to 34 Celsius (86 to 93 Fahrenheit) and high humidity, life in school gymnasiums and other evacuation centres, where families spread out on mats on the floors, began to take a toll.
Television footage showed one elderly woman trying to sleep by kneeling across a folding chair, arms over her eyes to keep out the light.
With few portable fans in evacuation centres, many survivors waved paper fans to keep cool.
Tight water supplies meant that people were not getting enough fluids, authorities said.
“Without water, we can’t really clean anything up. We can’t wash anything,” one man told NHK television.
The government has sent out water trucks but supplies remain limited.
In the hard-hit Mabi district of Kurashiki city in Okayama prefecture, piles of water-damaged refrigerators, washing machines and furniture lined the streets as residents used hoses to wash mud out of their homes.
Unable to join in the strenuous work Hisako Takeuchi, 73, and her husband, spent the past five nights at an elementary school that had been turned into a make-shift evacuation centre.
“We only have each other and no relatives nearby. We aren’t able to move large things and we desperately need volunteer helpers,” said Takeuchi.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on a visit to Kurashiki on Thursday, promised to provide help as soon as possible. He is set to visit two other hardhit areas on Friday and the weekend.
More than 70,000 military, police and firefighters toiled through the debris in a search for bodies.
Home of nurse in poison death searched:
Japanese authorities on Thursday raided the apartment of a nurse who’s in custody on suspicion of fatally poisoning at least two elderly patients at a terminal care hospital.
Local media have reported the woman confessed to police she poisoned about 20 patients to have them die when she was off-duty and could avoid the trouble of explaining the deaths to their families.
Kanagawa prefectural police said they searched 31-year-old Ayumi Kuboki’s apartment in Yokohama, near Tokyo, for more evidence in the case.
Kuboki was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of killing two men in 2016 by injecting disinfectant into their intravenous drips at the former Oguchi Hospital, since renamed Yokohama Hajime Hospital, a Kanagawa police official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
Prosecutors have more than two weeks to decide whether to indict the former nurse.
The hospital has acknowledged a higher death rate around that time, raising speculation the poisoning may have been systematic and more widespread. In 2016, a hospital lawyer told The Associated Press that 46 other patients had died on the same floor from July 1 until late September that year. It was about a year after Kuboki started working at the hospital.
Guru’s Ashes to be scattered at sea:
The cremated remains of the executed guru of the Japanese doomsday cult behind a deadly 1995 sarin gas attack will be scattered at sea to avoid creating a pilgrimage site for his followers, media reported Wednesday.
The lawyer representing the youngest daughter of Shoko Asahara, the charismatic leader of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, announced the plan a day after she agreed to collect his ashes.
The plan comes amid reports of a battle between other members of Ashara’s family, including his wife, for his remains.
His wife and several other children remain in an Aum successor cult.
Asahara’s youngest daughter, whose name has not been made public, is the only one of his children to break with it.
“(Asahara’s) ashes bear grave importance to his followers,” said lawyer Taro Takimoto, according to Kyodo News.
Takimoto and the daughter have agreed that it is best to scatter Asahara’s remains in the Pacific Ocean to avoid creating any “holy land” for his followers, he said.
The lawyer also urged the government to protect the daughter from possible attacks from the guru’s followers.
On Monday, Japanese authorities cremated 63-year-old Asahara, amid fears that his death could be used to reboot the cult.