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More than 110 dead as record rain floods Japan, 50 000 rescuers mobilized


More than 110 people were killed and 87 are missing as record rains continue falling over parts of Japan. Nearly 50 000 members of the Self-Defense Forces, police and firefighting service were mobilized to search for trapped, wounded or dead people.

Over 4.72 million people were at one point under evacuation orders or advisories as heavy rains caused landslides and flooding, destroying homes and sweeping away vehicles.

Rivers in a wide area, from southern to western Japan, are swollen or overflowing and bridges are washed away. More than 500 homes were damaged as of 07:00 JST, July 7, according to the government. Major manufacturers were also affected and their production and sales disrupted.

Over 90 mm (3.54 inches) of rain per hour was recorded in the city of Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, and more than 70 mm (2.75 inches) in the same time span in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Yanase in Umaji village, Kochi prefecture, recorded 1 190 mm (46.85 inches) of rain in 72 hours, which is double the total amount that usually falls in the month of July..

In the 24-hour period through noon Sunday, 250 mm (9.84 inches) of additional rain is forecast to fall on the Tokai and southern Kyushu regions, 200 mm (7.87 inches) in the Shikoku and Hokuriku regions, and 150 mm (5.90 inches) in the Kinki and northern Kyushu regions.

This extreme weather event was caused by a seasonal rain front expected to be stationary above the main island of Honshu until around July 8.

"This is heavy rain at a level we've never experienced," a JMA official said as the agency issued warnings in Okayama, Hiroshima, Tottori, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures on July 6. It is the first time that the JMA has issued emergency heavy rain warnings in eight prefectures at the same time since the agency launched the system in 2013.

However, many people in Japan decide to remain in their homes, even in mountainous areas, as such warnings are not compulsory evacuation orders, Kyodo said.

At least 37 people have been killed, more than 50 are still missing and dozens are injured, as of late Saturday afternoon (JST), July 7.

Hiroshima Prefecture was hardest hit with at least 20 dead in landslides. 9 people died in Ehime Prefecture and the rest in Osaka, Shiga, Hyogo, Okayama, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka, Kyodo reports.

As of 18:00 JST today, public broadcaster NHK had put the death toll at 38.


July 9, 14:13 UTC

More than 110 people have been killed and nearly 100 are still missing, NHK public television said Monday, July 9. 

Hiroshima Prefecture suffered the largest number of deaths with 43 people killed, followed by Ehime Prefecture on the main western island of Shikoku with 23 fatalities, The Mainichi reports. Okayama Prefecture had 22 residents killed, while Kyoto Prefecture had four fatalities and Yamaguchi Prefecture three. The prefectures of Hyogo, Fukuoka and Kagoshima each lost two people.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, it is the first time in 35 years in Japan that more than 100 people have been killed by torrential rains over such a short period of time. In July 1983, 112 people were killed following heavy downpours in Shimane and other prefectures.

Housing damage caused by the recent torrential rains and related natural disasters was reported in 31 prefectures as of 06:30 JST on July 9. Some 38 houses were completely destroyed, while 21 housing units were partially damaged. As many as 1 930 houses were flooded.

Featured image: Floods in Japan, July 2018. Credit: yyy ym

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