TOKYO – Heavy flooding over eastern Japan has caused one death, almost two dozen unaccounted for and houses washed away as residents were forced to their rooftops, desperate for rescue by military helicopters.
One woman has died and at least 22 people are missing since floods inundated parts of Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, rendering them unrecognizable.
Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper cited authorities in reporting that the 63-year-old woman died in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, after being caught in a landslide.
The raging brown floodwaters spawned from Tropical Storm Etau, which has dumped 60 centimeters (2 feet) of rain over some areas since Monday.
Combine that with several weeks of near-daily rainfall, and swaths of eastern Japan are now deluged.
“Tochigi Prefecture is facing a grave danger and is in an emergency situation,” Japan Meteorological Agency Spokesman Takuya Deshimaru said. “It is experiencing unprecedented downpour.”
Hundreds of thousands evacuated
More than 400,000 people have been evacuated, officials said. Almost a million, including in the capital Tokyo, and in seven other prefectures, have been issued evacuation advisories — where residents have been warned they may need to leave their homes because of rising water.
Some of those who didn’t leave found their houses submerged within minutes.
Members of the Japanese Self Defense Forces dropped from helicopter lines to pluck stranded residents from their roofs. Two by two, they swung precariously over the raging currents as they were pulled back up to the aircraft.
The Self Defense Forces had rescued 101 people by Thursday afternoon, a spokesman said.
Ibaraki prefecture said 70 people out of the 176 there who had called for help had been rescued.
Additionally, local firefighters rescued 20 people, an official from Joso City’s Information Office said. Nine people were reported missing in that city, authorities said.
Hundreds were reportedly left stranded overnight in the city, after the Kinugawa River burst its banks. – CNN