x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Japan floods kill 24 with downpours set to continue

Troops airlifted supplies to thousands of people cut off by landslides and torrential downpours that have killed at least 24 in south-west Japan.

Rescue workers search for missing people at the scene of a landslide in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan.
Rescue workers search for missing people at the scene of a landslide in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan.

TOKYO // Troops airlifted supplies to thousands of people cut off by landslides and torrential downpours that have killed at least 24 in south-west Japan as meteorologists warned of more heavy rain.

Television footage yesterday showed soldiers loading food, water and medical supplies onto military helicopters to send them to mountainous areas in Yame, Fukuoka prefecture on Kyushu island.

Helicopters took patients and elderly villagers to hospital from the isolated area, where at least one person was killed, officials said. About 2,000 people regained access but 3,500 others remained cut off since Saturday as landslides and fallen trees have blocked roads and water supplies."It is still uncertain when we can remove rubble from the roads so the remaining people can secure access," said Machiko Koga, a spokeswoman for Yame City government.

Rescue operations continued in other affected areas of Kyushu, where at least eight people were still missing after 24 people were confirmed dead in landslides or floods, officials said.

The weather eased somewhat yesterday, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more heavy rain, landslides and floods on the main southern island of Kyushu.

Rainfall of up to 81.7 centimetres has been recorded in hardest-hit Aso, situated at the foot of a volcano, where at least 18 people were killed and four others were still missing. Torrents of muddy, debris-strewn water and flooded houses following what officials described as "unprecedented" downpours from a seasonal rain front.

Heavy rainfall was also monitored in Kyoto - 500 kilometres east of the affected areas in Kyushu. About 20 people were trapped in the city following rainfall of nine centimetres per hour, but they were later rescued.