Abe visiting flood-hit western Japan as deaths reach 176

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2018

In the city of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture, Teruo Sasai, whose house, along with almost a dozen others in his neighborhood, was flooded out, and described the destruction "unbelievable".

Another storm, Typhoon Maria, was bearing down on outlying islands in the Okinawa chain but it had weakened from a super-typhoon and was not expected to have any impact on Japan's four main islands. Another nine are missing.

83 people have died since Thursday and 57 others are unaccounted for.

Policemen conduct a search operation for missing people in Kumano Town, Hiroshima Prefecture.

Some of the victims have been buried alive by landslides, Japan's Kyodo news agency reports.

The automaker, which suspended operations at several plants last week, said the halt would continue at two plants until Tuesday because it could not receive components, although both units were undamaged.

The landslides and flooding across much of western Japan have killed at least 155 people, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. However, around 80 people remained at the hospital as of Sunday evening, according to the NHK public broadcaster.

"We urge residents to remain cautious about possible landslides", a weather agency official told AFP. The rain set off landslides and flooded rivers, trapping many people in their homes or on rooftops. Many waited hours to be rescued.

During a meeting with relief workers, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that the floods have driven home the need for Japan to shore up its disaster response procedures and improve its evacuation centers.

Water accumulating behind piles of debris blocking rivers also posed a danger after a swollen river rushed into a Fukuyama residential area on Monday, prompting more evacuation orders.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Self-Defence Force ferried seven oil trucks from Hiroshima to Kure, a manufacturing city whose 226,000 residents were cut off from the rest of the prefecture due to the disaster.

The floodwaters slowly receded in Kurashiki city's Mabi district, one of the hardest hit areas, leaving a thick coat of brown mud and cars turned over or half-submerged, as residents returned to tackle the mess.

"The area became an ocean", 82-year-old resident Nobue Kakumoto told AFPon Sunday, surveying the scene.

About 300 people spent the night at the Okada Elementary School in Okayama prefecture, with many of them sleeping on blue mats in the school's gym.

Rescue workers acknowledged the odds of finding people alive were getting longer.

The rain has stopped in the disaster-hit region but the situation remains perilous in many areas. The government mobilized 75,000 troops and emergency workers and almost 80 helicopters for the search and rescue effort, Suga said.

Other reports by iNewsToday