The number of confirmed deaths in the disasters triggered by extreme torrential rains in a broad swath of western Japan has reached 200, the National Police Agency announced on Thursday, July 12.
The disaster, centered around the Chugoku and Shikoku regions of western Japan, became catastrophic in the wake of a spate of landslides and flooding Friday to Saturday, July 6 to 7.
According to Kyodo News Agency reports, more than half of the fatalities were concentrated in Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures.
Scores of people are still unaccounted for, making the latest disaster the worst ever since the 1982 massive flooding in the city of Nagasaki and surrounding areas that left a total of 299 people either dead or missing.
As of noon July 12, about 7,000 people had been evacuated to temporary shelter centers in the disaster-stricken areas, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Police, Self-Defense Forces, and firefighting personnel, numbering more than 70,000, have been desperately engaging in search-and-rescue operations for the more than 60 people still reported missing. Operations continue in the face of scorching hot weather in the disaster-hit areas, where houses collapsed in large numbers due to flooding in diverse sites.
Immediately after the outbreak of the disaster, many sections of railroads and expressways were paralyzed. Suspension of railway services and road closures continue in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions, severely affecting the distribution services of goods and other sectors of local economies.
More than 240,000 households are without running water in the hardest-hit three prefectures of Hiroshima, Ehime, and Okayama, according to the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry. The affected municipalities are developing countermeasures in the wake of the catastrophe, bearing in mind the sufferings of the evacuees will most likely be prolonged because of the huge scale of damage caused to transportation systems and other infrastructure.
Relief Operations Launched
On July 11, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared the government would swiftly declare the calamity a disaster of extreme severity under the Law Concerning Special Financial Assistance to Deal with Severe Disasters. This clears the way for greater central government financial aid for reconstruction.
The Prime Minister added that the government had ordered vacant publicly-operated apartments and public employees’ housing units to be made available to 71,000 families whose homes are lost or unsafe.
Charity organizations at home and abroad have launched activities to support disaster victims in western Japan. JAPAN Forward, for its part, is accepting donations for the stricken areas of the western Japan disaster until July 24.
JAPAN Forward will publicly announce the amount of donations and related information shortly after the donations are delivered to the disaster-hit areas.
The string of extremely severe downpours in western Japan occurred when a seasonal rain front cut through the eastern and western regions of the Honshu mainland, becoming extremely intense and hovering over many areas of western Honshu. Record-breaking precipitation was registered in several parts of the western region.
The meteorological agency called for maximum possible precautionary measures as it issued special heavy rain alerts on July 6 through 8 to 11 prefectures: Gifu, Kyoto, Hyogo, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima, Ehime, Kochi, Fukuoka, Saga, and Nagasaki. Nevertheless, western Japan suffered exceptionally devastating damage brought about by the extreme weather.
The meteorological agency has named the calamity “Heavy rains in July of the 30th year of the era of Heisei.”
Click here to link to make a donation for victims of the western Japan floods and landslides through the JAPAN Forward website.