At least 24 dead, 50 missing as heavy rain hits southwestern Japan

07 Juillet, 2018, 18:42 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • People look at the swollen Kamo River in central Kyoto western Japan following heavy rain

Record downpours prompted authorities to order some 1,932,000 people to evacuate their homes mainly in western Japan, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, but NHK said the figure had risen to almost 3.2 million.

Evacuation orders or advisories were issued for 4.72 million people at one point due to continued downpours.

Japan's Meteorological Agency retained special weather warnings for three prefectures on the main island of Honshu, down from five, and urged vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong winds amid what it called "historic" rains.

The Japan Meteorological Agency upgraded its alert system to the highest level - only issued when the amount of rain is expected to be the highest in decades - in large areas of western Japan, while lifting the warning in other regions. As a result, many people died in landslides.

Of those killed, nine were confirmed dead in Hiroshima, local authorities said, with the rest dying in Osaka, Shiga, Hyogo, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.

Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, south-western Japan, on Saturday. Several people are missing, including one whose auto was swept away in the early morning hours, national television said.

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

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Two other people were feared dead after being found in buildings hit by landslides, NHK said.

In some areas of the island, the storms brought as much as twice the average July rainfall for the entire month, Reuters also said.

At least 10 people are believed to have been buried alive by mudslides in Hiroshima Prefecture, according to Kyodo News.

The agency warned that Japan's Kinki region, which includes Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures, could be particularly hard-hit by downpours, escalating the risk of floods, landslides, lightning and tornadoes.

Numerous dead had ignored evacuation orders, choosing to stay in their homes despite warnings.

Bullet train services were partially halted from Thursday night due to heavy rain and the risk of mud flowing onto railway tracks in some areas, though West Japan Railway Co resumed operations on Friday morning, according to Kyoto News Agency.

The government set up a liaison unit at the crisis management center of the prime minister's office to gather information, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

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