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Japan floods: Dozens dead and many missing as record rainfall sparks huge national rescue effort

Millions ordered to evacuate as heavy downpours and landslides hit country's southwest

Tom Barnes
Saturday 07 July 2018 16:15 BST
Authorities have deployed 48,000 rescue workers as more than 500 homes were reported damaged
Authorities have deployed 48,000 rescue workers as more than 500 homes were reported damaged (PA)

Torrential rainfall and widespread flooding in Japan has left at least 38 people dead and almost 50 others missing.

Record downpours have battered the southwest of the country since Thursday, causing a series of floods and landslides affecting Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures in particular.

Authorities have deployed 48,000 rescue workers to search for injured or trapped people as more than 500 homes were reported damaged.

At least 10 have died in the Hiroshima prefecture, according to local government agencies, including several thought to have been killed by landslides.

Fatalities have also been reported in five other prefectures, and evacuation orders have been issued for almost three million people, with more than a million others advised to leave their homes and 47 people unaccounted for.

In Ehime prefecture, a woman was found dead on the second floor of a home hit by a landslide.

Yamaguchi prefecture, another area hit by the heavy rain, alerted people to heed evacuation warnings and act quickly.

Kyoto prefecture said it was working to control flooding at several dams. Some 250 people had to flee their homes and the prefecture identified one fatality as a 52-year-old woman.

“This is heavy rain at a level we’ve never experienced,” an official for the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) told Tokyo-based newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.

“Record-breaking rain was observed across the country. In fear of heavier downpours, we’ve issued emergency warnings in areas where the amount of rain hasn’t exceeded the standards of such a warning system.”

Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture is partially submerged in floodwater (AP)

Although Japan is among the most modernised of Asian nations, rural areas are hit hard by the rainy season each year, often resulting in casualties and heavy damage.

Roads were blocked in some regions and warnings issued on landslides.

The JMA has forecast the record rainfall to continue until at least Sunday, warning that more flooding, mudslides and lightning strikes could be on the way.

Japanese news agency Kyodo reported more than 90mm of rain per hour had fallen in the city of Susaki in Kochi prefecture during the downpours.

It said another 250mm of rain was expected to fall in several regions of southern Japan in the 24 hours until noon on Sunday.

Additional reporting by AP

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