Growing Death Toll from Torrential Rain in Southern Japan

News Brief – July 12, 2012

Torrential rain in southern Japan has triggered flash floods and landslides that have left at least 19 dead and 20 more people missing.

Television footage Thursday showed residents wading through muddy, hip-deep water on streets as others shovelled out mud from their homes.

The damage was reportedly concentrated on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

‘We are receiving many requests for rescuers and reports of mudslides. We are responding to the calls as swiftly as we possibly can,’ a local disaster official told AFP.

Most of those killed in the disaster were elderly people who did not manage to leave their houses themselves.

“Unfortunately, we believe the numbers [of dead and missing] will rise as we get more and more information from the field,” a local official in Kumamoto told AFP.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency said Kumamoto and neighboring Oita prefectures saw “the heaviest rain that [the region] has ever experienced” as hourly rainfalls of 100 millimeters were recorded.

The Meteorological Agency predicted a further 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rainfall through Friday.

The town of Aso in Kumamoto was hit by a record 500 millimeters of rain while in neighboring Minami-Aso severe landslides washed away houses.

In all, more than 50,000 people have received evacuation orders, according to local media.

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