Over a Dozen Presumed Dead as Heavy Rains Flood Japan
Heavy rain in southern Japan triggered flooding and mudslides on Saturday, leaving more than a dozen people presumed dead, about 10 missing and dozens stranded on rooftops waiting to be rescued, officials said
More than 75,000 residents in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima were urged to evacuate following pounding rains overnight. The evacuation was not mandatory and it was not known how many actually fled.
“I smelled mud, and the whole area was vibrating with river water. I’ve never experienced anything like this,” a man in a shelter in Yatsushiro city, in western Kumamoto, told NHK TV, the Associated Press reported.
Prime Minister Shinzo ordered 10,000 troops on stand-by for immediate deployment to join rescue and recovery operations, pledging the central government would "do its best to take emergency measures, prioritising people's lives," according to AFP.
Two people were found "in cardio-respiratory arrest" and another was missing in landslides in Kumamoto, said Naosaka Miyahara, a disaster management official for the prefecture, using a term often used in Japan before a doctor certifies death.
Television footage showed vehicles swamped at car parks near a flooding river, while several bridges were washed away.
"I can't evacuate as a road turned into a river. It's so scary," a female resident told NHK.
A massive landslide destroyed several houses with rescuers searching for missing people through half-buried windows.
"We have issued evacuation orders after record heavy rain," said Toshiaki Mizukami, another official for Kumamoto prefecture.
"We strongly urge people to take action to protect their lives as it's still raining quite heavily," he told AFP.
Japan is currently in its rainy season, which often causes floods and landslides and prompts local authorities to issue evacuation orders.