16 dead in Japan as heavy rains trigger floods and mudslides


Japanese self-defense forces and police manipulate an inflatable boat to participate in rescue operations (AFP)


At least 16 people have died after torrential rains in Japan triggered massive floods and landslides, local media said on Sunday as rescue workers searched the debris for a dozen missing people.

Floods in the Kumamoto region on southwestern Kyushu Island have destroyed homes, washed away vehicles and caused bridges to collapse, leaving many cities submerged and communities disrupted.

More than 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate, with authorities urging those housed in emergency shelters to wash their hands and maintain social distance to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We will do everything we can to prevent the spread of the infection and make the lives of those who have had to flee their homes as comfortable as possible,” Disaster Management Minister Ryota Takeda told reporters after visited a gymnasium in the city of Hitoyoshi where 600 residents took refuge.

In addition to the 16 dead, the national NHK television channel said that 20 others were in “cardiopulmonary arrest”, a term often used in Japan before a doctor officially certifies the death.

They include 14 residents of a nursing home that was flooded after a nearby river broke its banks on Saturday.

Officials from regional government and municipal offices, who were directly affected by the disaster, were unable to immediately confirm the reported deaths.

Communities along the Kuma River, which flows through Hitoyoshi, have been hit hard by the floodwaters.

Although rain fell in Kumamoto on Sunday morning, collapsed bridges and blocked roads due to floods and landslides have left many isolated in the area.

Rescuers and Self Defense Forces troops used boats and helicopters to reach them.

More rain was expected Sunday evening.

A large “SOS” sign was created on the grounds of what used to be an elementary school in the city of Yatsushiro, where a dozen people waved white towels on rescue helicopters and media.

(This story has not been edited by GalacticGaming staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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