Twenty dead as Japan rains prompt mass evacuations

japan-rains

The death toll from record downpours in Japan jumped to at least 20, with more than 1.9 million people ordered to evacuate on Saturday, as heavy rain continued to strike large areas in the west of the country. Intense rainfall triggered huge landslides and flash floods in Hiroshima, Okayama, Kyoto and other regions, while hampering rescue operations with dozens of people reportedly missing.

Local authorities said a total of 20 people were killed in rain-related accidents, while public broadcaster NHK said the death toll had risen to 38 with 50 others unaccounted for. “The number of casualties is expected to increase as we are still in the middle of collecting information,” Yoshinobu Katsuura, a disaster management official of Ehime prefecture, told AFP.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his ministers to “make an all-out effort” to rescue victims, saying: “The situation is extremely serious.” In Hiroshima, the body of a man in his 60s was found near a bridge early Saturday and another man was killed when a mudslide struck his house, a local government official said.