Japan – Dozens Feared Dead or Missing After Massive Floods in South

Flooding and mudslides have left as many as 50 people confirmed or presumed dead or missing in southern Japan. More than 200,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures following torrential rain on 03 and 04 July.

Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) carry out flood rescues in Kuma, Kumamoto, Japan, July 2020. Photo: Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF)

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a Level 5 alert (highest level) for floods and landslides for parts of Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures. At least 10 locations in Kumamoto recorded more than 410 mm of rain in 24 hours on 04 July. JMA reported rainfall rates of 98 mm per hour in Amakusa and 86.5 mm in Ashikita. The heavy rain has continued and Hioki City recorded 98.5 mm in 1 hour on 06 July.

In Kumamoto, wide areas of the city of Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto were under water. The town of Ashikita and village of Kuma suffered severe damage after the Kuma River broke its banks in several locations, leaving houses submerged and forcing people to their rooftops for safety. At least 16 residents of a care home for the elderly are thought to have died after the building in Kuma was swamped by flood waters, mud and debris.

Japan’s Disaster Management Agency reported confirmed fatalities in Hitoyoshi (9), Ashikita (10), Tsunagi (1) in Kumamoto, and 16 unconfirmed fatalities in the Kuma care home. Eleven people are reported missing in Kumamoto and 3 in Kagoshima.

Across the affected area helicopters and boats were used to rescue people from their homes in massive search and rescue operations involving more than 40,000 personnel from Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF), the coast guard and fire service. Search and rescue operations have been hampered by the continuing heavy rain.

In a press conference on 06 July, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 800 people had been rescued, 4,600 households were still without power and 7,000 without water. The Cabinet Secretary said the heavy rain had loosened ground in many of the affected areas and warned of potential mudslides.

Social Media