Thousands isolated by landslides in Southwest Japan
Tokyo - QNA
Sunday, 15 July 2012 06:57 GMT
More than 5,000 people have been cut off by landslides in southwest Japan, and fallen trees blocking roads and water supplies. More heavy rain and floods are forecast for the region where the death toll from the torrential downpours has climbed to 22, and at least eight people remain missing. Troops have been loading food, water and medical supplies into military helicopters to send them to northern Kyushu island. Rescue helicopters have also been sent to take patients and elderly villagers to hospital. On Saturday, about 400,000 people were ordered or advised to leave their homes in the same area. Evacuation orders were issued to about 260,000 people in the north of the island where more rivers burst their banks, Kyushu's local media reported. They were told to go to designated shelters such as schools and other public facilities. Nearly 140,000 other people were advised to leave their homes to avoid possible disaster. Television footage showed torrents of muddy, debris-strewn water and flooded houses following what officials described as "unprecedented" downpours from a seasonal rain front. Along the Yamakuni river in Oita prefecture, water levels were seen reaching the roof of a riverside drive-in restaurant before subsiding later. In Fukuoka prefecture alone, 78,600 people were ordered to evacuate their homes as rivers overflowed in dozens of places and 181 landslides occurred, an official said. About 820 houses were damaged and three bridges washed away, Fukuoka prefecture spokesman Hiroaki Aoki told the (AFP) news agency. "Two men were rescued from landslides but their conditions were not immediately available. One woman was still trapped," he said. "I don't remember any flooding which stretched over such a wide area in our prefecture." More than 75 centimeters of rain fell in 72 hours in the city of Aso, situated at the foot of a volcano in Kumamoto prefecture, the meteorological agency said.