Japan boosts rescue efforts as floods, landslides claim over 50 lives; more rain expected till Thursday
Visuals showed swollen rivers, destroyed homes, roads covered in landslides and stranded residents being carried to safety by military helicopters.
Tokyo: Japan on Tuesday warned of more heavy rain on the southwestern island of Kyushu and bolstered rescue operations as the death toll in flood-hit areas rose past 50 with about a dozen people reported missing.
The government said it would double rescue and relief personnel as heavy rain destroyed homes and caused landslides in what is shaping up to be Japan’s worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis killed 90 people in October.
Rain front was expected to remain over the area until Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news briefing. “Rain is expected over a wide front stretching from western to eastern Japan,” he said.
Police, Self-Defense Force (SDF) and Coast Guard units were carrying out search and rescue efforts, said Suga, urging people to take necessary precautions to keep safe.
The death toll has risen to 56 with missing, according to public broadcaster NHK. It showed swollen rivers, destroyed homes, roads covered in landslides and stranded residents being plucked to safety by military helicopters.
Kyodo News reported at least 71 landslides across 12 prefectures, citing the land ministry, and said more than 1.3 million people had been ordered to leave their homes.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would double rescue and relief personnel, from day-earlier levels, to 80,000, including some 20,000 SDF troops.
Some companies in the region have temporarily halted operations but Suga said he did not expect major disruptions to supply chains, as happened two years ago when deadly floods also hit Kyushu.
The government will continue to liaise with local firms, Suga said, adding, “We want to quickly take the necessary steps such as support for small and mid-sized firms depending on the situation ahead.”
Carmakers Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor, and electronics conglomerate Panasonic Corp all halted operations at certain plants on Monday due to heavy rain.
Mazda cancelled the second shift at its plants in Hiroshima, and Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Tuesday, with plans to open on Wednesday. Panasonic said its sensor plant in Kagoshima was operating normally on Tuesday.
Toyota said it would keep all three of its Kyushu plants closed on Tuesday after halting production the previous evening for safety reasons, with plans to restart on Wednesday.
Okonomiyaki: How Hiroshima’s ‘soul food’ has taken centrestage amid G7 summit
Okonomiyaki is expected to be served to G7 leaders who are meeting in Japan’s Hiroshima. Once a pre-war treat, this pancake dish has emerged to become the city’s ‘soul food’ post the 1945 nuclear attack
A Tragic Past: 1945 bombing of Hiroshima looms large as G7 leaders meet in Japan
The G7 leaders summit is taking place in Japan’s Hiroshima. The city remains etched in people’s memories as it was the first place on the planet to be targeted by an atomic bomb. Keeping its horrific past in mind, Japan's PM plans to make a case against nuclear weapons
'A world without nukes': All eyes on Japan's Hiroshima as G-7 leaders arrive for summit
Japan's Hiroshima, the site of the world's first atomic attack at the end of World War II, is hosting leaders of seven of the most influential countries in the world for the G7 summit. They will discuss a wide range of issues, including economic policy, security, climate change, energy and gender