Japan – Deadly Mudslide in Nagasaki After 743mm of Rain in 2 Days

Authorities have issued evacuation orders after days of heavy rainfall in south and western Japan. One person has died and 2 are missing after a mudslide destroyed 2 houses in Nagasaki prefecture.

A landslide struck in the city of Unzen in Nagasaki prefecture early on 13 August following heavy rainfall. Two houses collapsed, burying 4 residents. As of 13 August rescue workers had located the body of one of the victims, while another was found alive but seriously injured. Two people are still missing. Search and rescue teams, including members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, are working at the site. Areas of Unzen city are also flooded.

Record Rainfall and Evacuation Orders

Mount Unzen, near Unzen City, recorded 80.5 mm of rain in 1 hour on 13 August. A record 571.5 mm of rain fell in 24 hours and 743.0 mm in 48 hours to 13 August. The previous 24-hour high was 486 mm set in 2006, and the 48 hour was 510 mm, also set in 2006.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued heavy rain and mudslide warnings for several areas. Authorities have issued evacuation orders in 13 prefectures, affecting around 1.7 million households or 3.4 million people. The prefectures include Niigata, Toyama, Gifu, Shizuoka, Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita and Kagoshima.

In a statement of 13 August, the Prime Minister’s Office said, “heavy rains may continue over a wide area, mainly in western Japan, over a long period of time over the next week. Strict vigilance is required.”

Flooding has also affected parts of Hiroshima Prefecture. Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) reported around 20 houses were damaged after floods in Miyoshi city. One car was swept away by floods in Asakita-ku, Hiroshima City but no casualties were reported. Around 17 people were left isolated after floods cut road access in parts of Yamagata District. One person was rescued from a landslide in Shobara City.

FDMA reported some flooding in Shimane and Miyazaki Prefectures but without significant damage.

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Featured photo: File photo for illustration. Floods in Hiroshima, Japan, July 2018. Credit: Fire and Disaster Management