At least 49 killed, 48 missing as torrential rain pounds Japan

At least 49 killed, 48 missing as torrential rain pounds Japan
Rescue workers are seen next to houses damaged by a landslide following heavy rain in Hiroshima, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)

 

TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters): Forty nine people have been killed and 48 are unaccounted for in western and central Japan as torrential rain pounds the area, public broadcaster NHK said on Saturday, with more than 1.6 million evacuated from their homes.

 

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

 

Helicopter footage showed people on their roofs waving for help in Kurashiki, and Japanese soldiers rescuing children by boat from a flooded river in Hiroshima.

A local resident is rescued from a flooded area in Kurashiki, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)

 

The agency said that although a weather front had settled between western and eastern Japan, there was a risk that heavy rains would continue as warm air flowed towards the front. Already-saturated areas faced more rain on Sunday, it said.

 

Among the dead were a man who fell from a bridge into a river in the western city of Hiroshima, and a 77-year-old man in Takashima, about 56 kilometres east of Kyoto, who was swept into a canal as he worked to remove debris, NHK said.

 

Five other people in Ehime, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures were in critical condition after being injured in landslides, the broadcaster said.

 

By Saturday morning, more than 1.6 million people had been ordered to evacuate their homes for fear of flooding and further landslides, with 3.1 million more advised to leave, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

 

Derailed train caused by a landslide following heavy rain is seen in Karastu, southwestern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said around 48,000 police, firefighters and members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were responding to appeals for help.

 

The weather also disrupted industry. Some automakers halted production as the rain and flooding disrupted supply chains and risked workers’ safety, Kyodo news agency reported.

 

Mitsubishi Motors Corp halted operations at one plant because it could not get parts, Kyodo said. Mazda Motor Corp stopped production lines at two plants so employees would not have to travel in hazardous conditions.

 

Reuters could not reach the firms for comment outside business hours.