Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Japan's worst floods and mudslides claim 88 lives

Japan's worst floods and mudslides claim 88 lives

At least two people died, five were reported missing and as many as 1.3 million fled their homes after storms and flooding struck western and central Japan, officials said.

By Saturday morning, more than 1.6 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes amid fears of flooding and further landslides, with a further 3.1 million advised to leave, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

About 54,000 police personnel, firefighters, Self-Defense forces and Japanese Coast Guard have been deployed in the rescue effort, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Okayama prefecture said three people had died, six others were missing and seven were injured, one of them seriously.

The death toll in western Japan continued to climb on Sunday, after days of unrelenting rain caused severe flooding and triggered landslide warnings.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the rainfall was "historic" and warned more rain was set to batter already saturated parts of the nation through Sunday.

The rain, which has been worst in western parts of the country, has completely blanketed some villages, forcing desperate residents to take shelter on their rooftops with flood water swirling below as they waited for rescue.

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"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.

Among the worst hit areas was Hiroshima prefecture, where some villages were hit by landslides and other were nearly entirely submerged, forcing desperate residents to take shelter on rooftops. "I have a granddaughter the same age".

"Even now we have not been able to confirm the safety of quite a lot of people, and there are many who are stranded, facing the terror of impending inundation and waiting for rescue", prime minister Shinzo Abe said.

On Nuwa Island, off the prefectural capital of Matsuyama, a woman in her 30s and her two children were killed when a mudslide hit their home. The younger, a first-grader, was a star and the hope of the depopulated island, the principal told NHK.

"It gives me a chill thinking what could have happened", said Eiko Yamane.

An emergency crew works at the site after a train derailed due to landslides caused by heavy rain in Karatsu city, Saga prefecture on July 7, 2018.

TV footage showed convenience stores with shelves mostly bare while elsewhere, residents lined up to receive water. Water and electricity supply was also disrupted across large areas, as some 276,000 households suffered outages across 11 prefectures.

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