Deadly storms rav­age Ja­pan

Down­pours kill dozens, mil­lions urged to flee homes

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - NATION / WORLD - By Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno

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.

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