37 dead and at least 67 missing in western Japan downpours

07 July, 2018, 18:42 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Construction worker dies after being swept away by floods in Japan

As the rescue operations continued, the country also saw a 6.0-magnitude quake just outside Tokyo on Saturday, which left buildings swaying in the capital.

At least 37 people were confirmed dead as rescue workers frantically searched July 7 for dozens of people missing in heavy rains that have inundated western Japan since early in the week, as more rainfall is forecast.

By Saturday night, the agency had begun lifting its warnings in part of the country, though its officials told reporters heavy rain was forecast to continue until Sunday in western and eastern Japan.

As many as 143,000 people were ordered to evacuate Kyoto prefecture and 9,700 others in Osaka prefecture due to an escalating risk of mudslides, officials said.

Japan's Meteorological Agency retained special weather warnings for three prefectures in the main island of Honshu, down from five, and urged vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong winds amid what it called "historic" rains.

The agency warned that Japan's Kinki region, which includes Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures, could be particularly hard-hit by downpours, escalating the risk of floods, landslides, lightning and tornadoes.

Record downpours prompted authorities to order some 1,932,000 people to evacuate their homes mainly in western Japan, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, but NHK said the figure had risen to almost 3.2 million.

In a wide area of southwestern Japan to western Japan, rivers were swollen and overflowing, and bridges were washed away, while transport was disrupted, with shinkansen bullet train services suspended in most parts of western Japan.

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A 52-year-old woman in Kyoto was found dead by a river on Friday, while in neighbouring Hyogo prefecture a construction worker was swept away by flood waters and died.

Video from Okayama showed brown water engulfing residential areas with some people fleeing to rooftops and balconies, trying to catch the attention of hovering rescue helicopters.

In Motoyama, a town in Shikoku Island, 583 millimeters (23 inches) of rain fell in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday mornings, the Meteorological Agency said.

In August 2014, 77 people died in Hiroshima when torrential rain triggered massive landslides that destroyed homes.

Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, said that about 48,000 troops, police and firefighters have been deployed for rescue operations.

Another woman reportedly died in her home in Hiroshima after it was buried in a mudslide.

The weather also hit industry.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp halted operations at one plant because it could not get parts, Kyodo said.

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