Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Japan struggles to deliver food relief after historic rains

Japan struggles to deliver food relief after historic rains

Landslides and flooding caused by torrential rain in Japan have killed another 21 people in what has become one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the country since the quake and tsunami at Fukushima in 2011. "Some of our neighbours had their apartments destroyed, others are still looking for their families".

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the whereabouts of 92 people is unknown, mostly in the southern area of Hiroshima prefecture. "We are going to be all dried up if we continue to be isolated".

Some residents of Mabi had shrugged off the warnings, however, given the area's history of floods.

It is the deadliest rain event in Japan since 2014, when at least 74 people died due to landslides that were triggered by torrential downpours in the Hiroshima region.

Most of the deaths in hard-hit Hiroshima were from landslides in areas where homes had been built up against steep slopes, beginning in the 1970s, said Takashi Tsuchida, a civil engineering professor at Hiroshima University.

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A damaged vehicle is seen in floodwater on July 10, 2018 in Kurashiki, Japan.

'Around 1,000 people were seeking rescue by Sunday morning, but we don't yet have a complete picture of the disaster, which is enormous, ' Mutsunari Imawaka, a spokesman for the prefecture's disaster management office, said. Supplies such as water, blankets and cellphone chargers were provided. Residents lined up for water under the scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35C, raising risks of heat stroke.

AFP reported that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned on Sunday of a "race against time" to rescue flood victims as new alerts have been issued over the record rains.

According to the health ministry, about 270,000 households were without water supplies as of 5 a.m. on July 10, including about 93,000 households in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, and about 10,000 households in Kurashiki.

As the sky clears from the torrential rains that battered this and wide areas of western Japan, those displaced from their homes who are living in evacuation centers are facing yet another dire problem - heatstroke and other complications from a sweltering summer.

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According to the West Nippon Expressway Company, at least seven expressway sections including those in Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures remain severely damaged with little chance of fix anytime soon.

Assessment of the casualties was slowed by the scale of the area affected. (Reuters/Issei Kato) Local residents walk in a flooded area in Mabi on July 9.

Japanese officials said more than 73,000 emergency workers and troops were involved in search and rescue efforts.

The government monitors weather conditions and issues early warnings, but the nation remains vulnerable to disasters because much of the country outside major cities is mountainous and construction takes place on virtually every bit of usable land.

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