Death Toll Rises to 66 in Japan Floods

  • Heavy rains have continued to pound the southern part of the country.
  • The JMA has issued evacuation advisories in Nangasaki and some areas in Kyushu region.
  • In Yufuin town, an innkeeper was found dead and three of his family members have been reported missing.

The death toll due to deadly floods and landslides in Japan has risen to 66. The damage has now spread to central Japan’s scenic mountain villages, which are known for their hiking and hot springs. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency stated that sixteen people were still missing.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is an agency of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. It is charged with gathering and providing results for the public in Japan that are obtained from data based on daily scientific observation and research into natural phenomena in the fields of meteorology, hydrology, seismology and volcanology, among other related scientific fields.

Heavy rains have continued to pound the southern part of the country. The floods have triggered landslides that have destroyed homes and made roads impassable. Japan’s Meteorological Agency has stated that the rains are expected to continue until July 12, and called for people living in low-lying area, as well as flood and landslides, to be extra vigilant.

The JMA has issued evacuation advisories in Nangasaki and some areas in Kyushu region. More stranded residents have been evacuated as the search and rescue operations continued.

Thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers have been mobilized to help in the search and rescue mission in affected areas. However, the operations have been hampered by the heavy rains still pounding, landslides, flooding and disrupted communication.

The country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that the roads blocked by landslides and the rising flood waters had barred access to areas that are hard hit, especially the southwestern region of Kumamoto, where 9 people are still missing.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. “Disasters may happen even with little rain where ground has loosened from previous rainfall,” he said. At the peak of the disaster, around 3.6 million people had been advised to evacuate, although half of the advisories had been lifted by Wednesday.

The evacuation was not mandatory, but the current global pandemic has further complicated it. The social distancing measure has also limited access to the available shelters. One doctor said that people were hesitant to offer help for fear of the virus.

The wet season (sometimes called the rainy season) is the time of year when most of a region’s average annual rainfall occurs. The wet season is known by many different local names throughout the world.

“In past disasters, by the fourth day, we normally see relief efforts like people preparing meals. This time I am yet to see something like that,” the doctor said. The country has recorded more than 20,000 cases with almost 1,000 deaths.

In Yufuin town, an innkeeper was found dead and three of his family members have been reported missing.

In Kamikochi and Matsumoto, two tourist destinations in Nagana, hundreds of residents and visitors were stranded after flooding and mudslides blocked parts of the main roads connecting the two towns, which are major tourist sites.

In another incident, a pickup truck was hit by a mudslide in Kagoshima, causing it to plunge into the ocean. Fortunately, its driver, who had a head injury, was airlifted. In the town of Oita, two brothers were pulled alive after a mudslide crashed their house.

The country is prone to floods and landslides, and is in the middle of its annual rainy season.  Japan is usually at a higher risk of heavy rains during early summer, whereby warm and wet air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain. In 2018, more than 200 people died from heavy rains and flooding in the southwestern part of the country.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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