Rescue workers search for survivors in Japan floods

10 July, 2018, 15:04 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Flooding and landslides have killed at least 50 people and left dozens missing in western areas of Japan

"It's what we call a grid operation, where we are checking every single house to see if there are people still trapped inside them", an official with the local Okayama prefecture government told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, as of Sunday afternoon of July 8, thousands of people had been evacuated to designated evacuation centers in 15 prefectures.

"The record rainfalls in various parts of the country have caused rivers to burst their banks, and triggered large scale floods and landslides in several areas", Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Sunday.

With more heavy rain is forecast to hit some areas for at least another day, nearly five million people have been ordered or advised to leave their homes. A lot of them were rescued by boat or helicopter.

AFP reporters saw homes where the top floor had been ripped away from the lower one, and carried away by landslides, and others that had been swept away wholesale from their plots.

In the town of Kumano in Hiroshima prefecture, rescue workers were still digging through the dirt of a landslide that enveloped homes over the weekend, crushing some into little more than scrap wood.

(Reuters/Issei Kato) A vehicle is submerged at a flooded area in Mabi. But he was shocked and helpless when he saw his restaurant, which he opened almost 40 years ago, filled with mud heaped about 1 metre above the floor and windows smashed.

People fled to rooftops and balconies in the city of Kurashiki, at the mouth of the Takahashi River, about 670 kilometers (415 miles) from Tokyo.

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The assessment of casualties has been hard because of the widespread area affected.

This photo shows a submerged housing area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, western Japan.

"I've never experienced anything like this is my life, and I've lived for more than 70 years", said Hitoko Asano, 71.

Hundreds of people have been injured, and dozens of homes have been completely destroyed in the disastrous downpours; most of the deaths have occurred in Hiroshima subdivision.

Residents sheltering at a local elementary school in Hiroshima's Yano district were provided with water, blankets and cellphone chargers.

Ryutaro Hirakawa, 18, said he fled his house after smelling a unusual odor coming from the ground, a sign of a landslide. "It was scary, just scary".

The prime minister had planned to depart for Europe and the Middle East, but those plans reportedly have been canceled.

Residents grieve as they return to scenes of devastation in Higashihiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said "the rescue efforts are a race against time", as emergency workers hurry to rescue individuals waiting on the roofs of their homes in flooded villages, the Guardian reported.

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