Japan rescuers battle to reach thousands trapped by floods

  • Saturday 11, July 2020 10:10 AM
Sharjah 24 – AFP: Japanese emergency services and troops scrambled Thursday to reach people cut off by catastrophic flooding and landslides that have killed dozens and caused widespread damage, with more torrential rain forecast.
In the scenic tourist area of Gifu in central Japan, officials said landslides and floodwater had left just nearly 1,000 households stranded, or around 2,300 people.

But in the hardest-hit region of Kumamoto, attention was turning to clean-up operations after some of the heaviest rain for years.

A Kumamoto official said: "The number of people stranded is zero. We can now reach all the areas which had been isolated."

The rain front started in the southwest early Saturday and has since cut a swathe of destruction across Japan, dumping record amounts of rain and causing swollen rivers to burst their banks.

Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) said "heavy rain will likely continue at least until July 12, calling for extreme vigilance for possible landslides and flooding in low-lying areas.

The JMA issued its 2nd-highest evacuation order to around 350,000 people. Such orders are not compulsory, however, and most residents are choosing not to go to shelters, possibly due to coronavirus fears.

The death toll has climbed gradually as more victims are discovered in isolated areas.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters that 58 people were confirmed dead.

He said authorities were investigating whether 4 other deaths were linked to the floods, adding that 17 people were unaccounted for.