Heavy rains hammer southern Japan; death toll climbs to 76

Geneva Stokes
July 9, 2018

About 168,000 people were ordered from their homes in nine prefectures, due to the risk of landslides and flooding, and 1.2 million more were advised to leave as of Friday morning, news agencies in Japan reported.

"The thoughts of the South African people are with the people of Japan during this hard time‚" Ramaphosa said.

Scores of staff and patients, some still in their pyjamas, were rescued from the isolated Mabi Memorial Hospital in boats rowed by members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces.

Public broadcaster NHK said flooding and landslides were hindering rescue efforts and repeatedly urged people not to lose hope.

In Okayama prefecture, rescue workers flew in helicopters over areas that are still under flood water and otherwise unreachable, looking for signs of life. The toll is likely to rise further as more rain is expected in some areas for at least another day.

"The situation is extremely risky", wrote a Twitter user in Kochi, a city on the smallest main island of Shikoku, where the rain has been especially intense.

Since the downpour began Thursday, when the weather agency forecast record amounts of rain through Sunday, 30 people have died in Hiroshima, 19 in Ehime and 10 in Okayama.

"It's very painful", said one elderly man watching nearby."I have a granddaughter the same age. I was just able to escape, but I was terrified", 62-year-old Yuzo Hori told the Mainichi Shimbun daily in Hiroshima.

Some areas have been hit by more than a metre of rainfall, according to the government, while around 48,000 troops, police and firefighters have been deployed for rescue operations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

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"There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time", Abe said on Sunday morning.

According to the JMA, an active seasonal rain front is causing torrential rain in most eastern and western regions of Japan, which could continue until Sunday.

Major manufacturers in the area around Hiroshima and Okayama, such as Panasonic, Mazda, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have shuttered factories.

Roads were closed and train services suspended in parts of western Japan.

"I've lived here for 40 years".

"I'm a secondhand book seller", Ono said.

More than 360,000 people were told to evacuate their homes, the officials said in a statement.

Hundreds of thousands of people across a wide swathe of western and central Japan were evacuated from their homes today as torrential rains pounded the nation, flooding rivers, setting off landslides and leaving at least two people dead. Nevertheless, Kyodo said, many had remained at home.

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