Japan Struggles to Deliver Relief to Victims as Flood Toll Rises

Lester Mason
July 12, 2018

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had canceled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East this week to oversee the emergency response, will visit disaster-hit areas in the Okayama prefecture, Suga said.

Over 70,000 emergency workers have been deployed to dig through flood waters and the aftermath of landslides that have transformed the landscape in parts of central and western Japan. But he was shocked and helpless when he saw his restaurant, which he opened almost 40 years ago, filled with mud heaped about 1 metre above the floor and windows smashed.

"I can't reach her phone", he told AFP on Monday, sitting across from a house that had been ripped apart and tossed on its side by a huge landslide.

Around 23,000 people are now in evacuation centers after fleeing the historic deluge and 73,000 disaster response workers have been recruited to assist in rescue efforts.

According to the BBC, as of Sunday around 3 million people had been advised to leave their homes and about 1.5 million ordered to do so.

When her residence was flooded, 71-year-old Teruko Senoo fled to an acquaintance's house.

Japan mobilized tens of thousands of army troops, police and firefighters to undertake rescue efforts.

Agence France-Presse reporters saw homes where the top floor had been ripped away from the lower one, and carried away by landslides, and others that had been swept away wholesale from their plots. They are engaged in healthcare-related tasks, including measures to deal with infectious disease control, for the affected people through July 31.

On Wednesday, residents lined up for water under a scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35 Celsius, raising the risk of heat stroke.

Despite various measures meant to prevent deaths, including dams to control flood waters, the country sees rain-related deaths most years.

Even with the break in rain, officials warned of the possibility of sudden showers, as well as new landslides in the wettest areas.

"We don't know how long it will take for the recovery", said Okayama official Imawaka.

The rain has severed transportation in the region, with the transport ministry saying West Japan Railway Co. and other railway operators of 27 train lines suffered damage at more than 100 locations.

According to the officials, almost 2 million people still face orders to keep away from homes, fire and disaster. The days of record rainfall transformed roads into rivers, and waves of mud swept down hillsides, carrying cars and trees with them.

They tried to flee by vehicle, but were trapped when a second wave swept down just in front of them, swallowing three cars. Many waited hours to be rescued.

"I forgot to bring it with me", he said.

"People believe Okayama is very safe, nobody thought that [a disaster] would happen to this city", Yusuke Fujii, who lives in Osaka but travelled to Okayama to visit his grandmother, told the BBC.

Tanimoto wants to go back there with his wife, Chieko, and their yellow and green parakeets, Pi-chan and Kyako-chan, but said it would take a few weeks until they get the utility services back and clean the place.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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