Stormageddon: 5,000 cutoff by landslides in Japan as death toll rises to 22

Sunday, July 15, 2012
By Paul Martin
July 15, 2012

JAPAN – More than 5,000 people have been cut off by landslides as more heavy rain and floods are forecast in southwestern Japan, where the death toll from torrential downpours has risen to 22. Television footage on Sunday showed troops loading relief material such as food, water and medical supplies into military helicopters to send them to mountainous areas in Yame, Fukuoka prefecture in northern Kyushu Island. Local authorities were separately dispatching rescue helicopters to take patients and elderly villagers to hospital from the isolated area, where at least one person was killed, officials said. More than 5400 people have been shut away since late Saturday as landslides and fallen trees have cut roads and water supplies in the region, where unprecedented rainfall has fallen since Wednesday. “We will continue sending emergency rations to people there as it is still unknown when we can secure access to the area,” said Kayo Shinohara, a spokeswoman for Yame City government. “We are trying to do our best to remove rubble as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman told AFP by phone. Rescue operations resumed early on Sunday in other affected areas in Kyushu, where at least eight people were still missing after 22 people were confirmed dead in the landslides or floods, officials said. Public broadcaster NHK showed rescuers continuing their search, using heavy machinery to remove uprooted trees, boulders and debris, while residents were scooping mud out of houses with shovels. Some 3600 people remaining were ordered or advised to leave their homes in southwest Japan, NHK said, after local authorities lifted similar advice to some 400,000 others by Sunday morning. The weather eased somewhat on Sunday bringing temporary relief, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more heavy rain, landslides and floods on Kyushu. “A peak of heavy rain in northern Kyushu has passed, but there is fear that driving rain with thunder may hit northern Kyushu,” the agency said. –Australian


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