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Devastating flooding, landslides force thousands to evacuate in Japan

Saturday, July 4th 2020, 2:30 pm - More than a dozen people are believed to be dead, with nine missing, while more than 200,000 have been forced to evacuate their homes.

More than 200,000 residents on Japan's island of Kyushu have been forced to flee from their homes following destructive flooding and landslides caused by torrential rains.

With one confirmed death, as many as 15 more are feared dead and nine are missing, with unverified reports of 14 victims being pulled from a flooded nursing home. Authorities ordered more than 200,000 residents to evacuate and 10,000 soldiers to help with rescue efforts.

Kumamoto Governor Ikuo Kabashima told reporters the nursing home victims had been found in "cardio-respiratory arrest," a term used in Japan before a doctor officially certifies death.

Japan flood locator

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said heavy rains are expected to continue through Sunday, warning of overflowing rivers, mudslides and flooding in low-lying areas. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned people to be on "maximum alert," with Kumamoto and Kagoshima among the worst-hit areas.

RAINFALL NEVER SEEN BEFORE IN REGION: WEATHER AGENCY

JMA stated such rainfall amounts had never been seen before in the region, with Amakusa experiencing record amounts of 98 mm an hour. The Kuma River then overflowed and caused extensive flooding, while a dike partially collapsed in Hitoyoshi.

The flooding stranded residents in Hitoyoshi, Yatsushiro and other villages in Kumamoto, as roads became inaccessible. Emergency officials ramped up rescue efforts, but are finding it difficult to reach some mountainous areas. NHK, Japan's national broadcaster, stated there are reports of eight homes washed away in the Takinoue district.

Haruka Yamada, a resident in Ashikita, told Kyodo News she saw large trees and "parts of houses" being washed away, hearing them crashing into something. "The air is filled with the smell of leaking gas and sewage," said Yamada.

Sources: BBC | Kyodo News

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