Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

No SA casualties reported among 48 dead in flooding in Japan - Dirco

No SA casualties reported among 48 dead in flooding in Japan - Dirco

Rescuers are combing through mud-covered hillsides and near riverbanks to look for dozens still missing after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides in southwestern Japan, where the death toll has risen to 122.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday at least 80 people were still unaccounted for.

"Due to torrential rain, there are risks of flooding and landslides in wide areas of central and western Japan", the FCO have written on their website. Many returned to on their homes and begin cleanup Monday after the rain stopped and weather warnings were lifted.

The government has set up a taskforce to speed up deliveries of supplies and other support for evacuation centres and residents in the region, but disrupted roads and other ground transportation have delayed shipment, raising concerns of shortages.

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".

"My wife could not climb up the stairs, and nobody else was around to help us out", Katayama told national broadcaster NHK. "More than 20 people died in the city after river dikes collapsed, inundating around 4,600 homes".

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Pictures of Leaf, a pet at an old people's home in the town of Kurashiki in Okayama, had captured hearts around the country.

Assessment of the casualties was slowed by the scale of the area affected.

Though the persistent rain has ended, officials warned of sudden showers and thunderstorms as well as of more landslides on steep mountainsides saturated over the weekend.

Parts of southwestern Japan had up to 10 centimeters of rain per hour, the highest level in decades. "Some homes were smashed". Military paddle boats and helicopters were bringing people to dry land. Thousands have evacuated their homes.

Residents sheltering at the Yano school were provided with water, blankets and cellphone chargers.

While the rains have relented, they have left behind devastation.

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Ryutaro Hirakawa, 18, said he fled his house after smelling a unusual odour coming from the ground, a sign of a landslide.

"I'm cleaning out the edges here on the road, because the heavy machinery can't pick up dirt from the curb because it'll get stuck", he said. A nine-year-old boy was among the dead. "In front of our house had become a river, and was making a huge noise", he said.

Japan's government says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has canceled his planned July 11-18 trip to Europe and the Middle East to oversee the emergency response to deadly heavy rains.

Pope Francis is praying for the victims of Japan's flooding and is encouraging civil authorities involved in search and rescue operations.

"We'll cut through all the bureaucracy to secure the goods people need for their lives, to improve life in the evacuation centers - such as air conditioners as the hot days continue - and then secure temporary housing and the other things people need to rebuild their lives", he said.

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