9 July 2018Hot off the Press
More than 110 people have died as a result of severe flooding and landslides in southwestern Japan, while 58 others remain missing.
Search and clean-up operations are underway, with 54,000 military, police, and firefighting personnel, as well as helicopters and boats dispatched in the still-risky conditions.
The death toll is expected to continue rising as search efforts reach areas with limited accessibility.
“There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who cancelled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East.
“The rescue teams are doing their utmost.”
Nearly two million people are affected by evacuation orders, and landslide warnings have been issued across the area. Around 23,000 people are staying in evacuation centres.
Residents of Japan’s southwestern Hiroshima prefecture were caught off-guard by torrential rain that began on Friday and worsened over the weekend, causing rivers to overflow, flooding residential areas, downing telephone poles, and uprooting trees.
The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded 263mm of rain in three hours in an area Kochi prefecture, the highest since records began in 1976. Landslide warnings have been issued across the entire island of Shikoku.
More than 1,000 people were temporarily trapped on the roofs of buildings in Okayama prefecture after the nearby Oda River flooded.
About one-third of the Mabicho area in the prefecture was submerged, displacing up to 5,000 residents. Patients and staff stranded in a local hospital were rescued early on Monday.
The transport ministry announced that 13 railroad operators have suspended services on 37 routes in western Japan.