Nine missing after Japan's killer floods
Thursday 23 July 2009
Hundreds of police, soldiers and rescue workers searched today for nine people missing after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides in southern Japan. Eight people, including elderly residents of a nursing home, have been killed.
Most of about 100 residents of the home were brought to the roof and lifted out by helicopter Tuesday after a mudslide hit the building. But five residents were killed before the rescue, and two are still missing.
The ground floor of the two-story building in Hofu City in Yamaguchi Prefecture (state) was inundated, filled with rocks and mud.
Rescue workers and dogs had dug up the five bodies buried in the debris by late Wednesday, a prefectural police official said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy. The victims were aged from 63 to 95.
Television footage showed dozens of soldiers, police and rescue workers wading through muddy waters and shoveling out debris and rocks at the nursing home.
Also in Hofu, an 85-year-old woman was buried in a separate landslide and found dead Tuesday, and another person drowned after being washed into a swollen river.
In nearby Shimonoseki City, a rescue team Wednesday found the body of a 74-year-old farmer who had fallen into a swollen reservoir.
In addition to the two missing from the nursing home, seven other people were still unaccounted for.
The heavy rains also flooded a nearby water purifying station, cutting off fresh water to nearly 30,000 homes. Defense troops and local officials are to tour affected areas with water trucks and setup makeshift bathrooms and showers.
More than 400 people evacuated in eight cities in Yamaguchi, the prefecture said in a statement. Rivers and canals flooded at more than 100 locations. At least 110 landslides were reported in Hofu, which lies about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo.
A seasonal rain front has brought torrential downpours in southwestern Japan since the weekend. Yamaguchi has seen record rainfall for July.
The Meteorological Agency said the peak of the rain has passed in southern Japan, where more than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rainfall was reported in 24 hours through Tuesday evening, but it warned of a possibility of more landslides.
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