At least 76 killed in Japan floods

Clay Curtis
July 10, 2018

Residents grieve as they return to scenes of devastation in Higashihiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture.

The heavy rains began with a typhoon front that hit as Japan entered its yearly typhoon season.

Authorities warned that landslides could strike even after rain subsides as the calamity shaped up to be potentially the worst in decades. Kyodo reported that 13 railroad operators were suspending services on 37 routes in western Japan and elsewhere on Monday.

The automaker, which suspended operations at several plants last week, said the halt would continue at two plants until Tuesday because it could not receive components, although both units were undamaged.

Around 1,000 people in that area are believed to be trapped on the roofs of submerged buildings.

Some 123 people are confirmed dead, two are in cardiac arrest and another 61 are unaccounted for, according to a tally by public broadcaster NHK at 10pm local time (9pm in Singapore).

"We have never experienced this kind of rain before", an official at the Japanese Meteorological Agency told a news conference.

They were rescued hours later, and returned to the town on Monday, where Ogawa found his telephone, filled with calls from concerned relatives and friends.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday that rescuers were working against time.

Residents clean up near a house damaged by heavy rain in Soja city, Okayama prefecture. "This is a situation of extreme danger". He explained, "Rescues, saving lives and evacuations are a race against time".

"I'm afraid elderly people who were living alone may have failed to escape", said Yamanaka, 53.

Rescue workers acknowledged the odds of finding people alive were getting longer.

The landslides and flooding across much of western Japan have killed at least 134 people, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Over 74,000 personnel, including police officers, firefighters and Self-Defence Force soldiers, have been tapped in a massive search-and-rescue operation, with news channels showing dramatic footage of residents, stranded on rooftops, being airlifted to safety. Critical infrastructure has been hit, including railway tracks.

Suga said the government set up a taskforce and was spending $26 million to hasten deliveries of supplies and other support for evacuation centers and residents in the region.

The government said it would tap around $20 million in reserve funds to provide aid to those affected by the disaster. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency is reported to have counted over 30,000 people accommodated in temporary evacuation centres as of Sunday. The Japan Meteorological Agency has reported that one area of the Kochi prefecture experienced a staggering 26.3 centimeters (10.4 inches) of precipitation in just three hours, almost as much as the average amount for the entire month of July (32.8 centimeters or 12.9 inches), typically southwestern Japan's second wettest month after June.

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