Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Japan takes stock of damage as flood death toll rises

Japan takes stock of damage as flood death toll rises

Government officials have also warned people to remain on guard against the possibility of fresh landslides, with the torrential rain loosening earth on hillsides around residential areas.

Torrential rain that struck western Japan a week ago caused floods and landslides, killing 200 people, many in communities that have existed for decades on mountain slopes and flood plains largely untroubled by storms. In some areas, hills collapsed under the weight of water, causing deadly landslides that crushed homes and took out roads.

Japan's top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing that the government is likely to tap into reserve funds of about 2 billion yen (18 million USA dollars) to help deal with the disaster's aftereffects.

"We've never experienced this kind of rain before", a weather official told the BBC.

"We can not take baths, the toilet doesn't work, and our food stockpile is running low", 23-year old nursery school worker Yumeko Matsui tells NBC.

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About a dozen of Tanimoto's neighbors were found dead at the apartment complex after floods hit the area.

A damaged house in a flood hit area in Kumano, Hiroshima prefecture on July 9. But a local volunteer, Yuki Sato, 25, said local convenience stores were obviously in short supply, so she didn't buy anything there because she wanted to save them for the evacuees or others who can't drive out of town. According to the power companies, around 12,700 customers had no electricity on Monday.

"What we are getting is a thin stream of water, and we can't flush toilets or wash our hands", he added, standing over a 20-litre (4.4-gallon) plastic tank that was only partly filled after nearly four hours of waiting. Residents lined up for water under a scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), raising the risk of heat stroke.

At least 176 people have been killed and millions have been evacuated from areas affected by landslides in western Japan. Many returned to on their homes and begin cleanup Monday after the rain stopped and weather warnings were lifted.

In Uwajima town in Ehime prefecture, an overflowing river washed debris down to the coast, turning seawater partially muddy.

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The Transport Ministry, West Japan Railway Co. and local operators of the 27 lines in the affected areas, reported damage at over 100 locations and will be unable to restart services within the next few days.

Suga said earlier the government was spending $18 million (2 billion yen) to hasten deliveries of supplies and other support for evacuation centres and residents.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said 73,000 police, firemen and troops were taking part in the rescue effort, with 700 helicopters deployed to help.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly mobilized 54,000 personnel for search-and-rescue efforts and set up an emergency task force for the first time since the Kumamoto earthquakes in 2016.

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