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38 killed, 50 missing as torrential rain hits Japan, over 1.6 million evacuate homes

More than 1.6 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes amid fears of flooding and landslides in Japan, with a further 3.1 million advised to leave.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2018 15:30 IST
Reuters
Reuters
Tokyo
Japan,Japan flood,Japan rains
A road collapsed due to heavy rain in Higashihiroshima, Hiroshima prefecture on July 7.(AFP Photo)

At least 50 people were missing and four in critical condition as torrential rain that has killed 38 people pounds western and central Japan, 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.

In Motoyama, a town on Shikoku island, about 600 km (373 miles) from the capital Tokyo, 583 mm (23 inches) of rain fell between Friday and Saturday morning, the agency said.

Although a weather front had settled between western and eastern Japan, there was a risk heavy rains would continue as warm air flowed towards the front, it added, with already-saturated areas facing more rain on Sunday.

Among the dead were a man who fell from a bridge into a river in western Hiroshima city, and a 77-year-old man in Takashima, 56 km (35 miles) east of the ancient capital of Kyoto, who was swept into a canal as he worked to remove debris, NHK said.

Roads are covered in mud waters after a landslide caused by heavy rains in Aki, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan on July 7. (AP Photo)

Four people in Ehime, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures were in critical condition after being injured in landslides, it added.

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.

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

An aerial view shows local residents seen on the roof of submerged house at a flooded area as they wait for a rescue in Kurashiki, southern Japan on July 7. (Kyodo/via REUTERS )

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

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.

First Published: Jul 07, 2018 11:01 IST