Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

20 dead as record Japan rains prompt mass evacuations

20 dead as record Japan rains prompt mass evacuations

People wait to be rescued on the roof of a house nearly submerged in floodwaters caused by heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan on Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of people across a wide swathe of western and central Japan were evacuated from their homes today as torrential rains pounded the nation, flooding rivers, setting off landslides and leaving at least two people dead.

As a result, many people in Japan tend to remain in their homes, even in mountainous areas prone to landslides triggered by heavy rain.

Japan's Meteorological Agency issued special weather warnings across four prefectures in the west of Japan's main island of Honshu, urging vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong wind amid what it called "historic" rains.

The downpour, which began Thursday, is likely to last till Sunday.

Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, south-western Japan, on Saturday.

A 59-year-old construction worker died in the western prefecture of Hyogo after being sucked into a drainage pipe, and two more were injured as they rushed to his rescue, NHK national television said.

A woman in her 70s or 80s was reportedly found dead inside a drainage facility in central Japan, local police reported, with a number of people remaining unaccounted for, including a man in Kochi Prefecture whose milk deliver auto may have been washed away by a river.

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About 1.5 million people have been ordered to leave their homes and three million more advised to do so.

In Motoyama, a town in Shikoku island, 583 millimetres of rain fell in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday mornings, the Meteorological Agency said.

In Hiroshima Prefecture, 41 people were missing, while seven remained out of contact in Ehime Prefecture.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told an emergency news conference July 7 that 48,000 or so police officers, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces members had been mobilized to rescue people stranded in the disaster that has been unfolding since July 3.

Residents are evacuated to a safer place from floodwaters in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, Japan.

Kyodo news service, which put the death tally at 34 people, said one death was in a landslide in Hiroshima, which had set off a fire, while the body of a child was found in another area.

The heavy rain also affected business operations, with major manufacturers and retailers suspending production and sales as their supply chains were disrupted.

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