17 dead as record heavy rain pounds Oita, Kumamoto

TOKYO —

At least 17 people died, 20 were missing and 50,000 were ordered to evacuate as the heaviest rainfall on record pounded Oita and Kumamoto prefectures in Kyushu on Thursday.

Emergency workers in Kumamoto Prefecture responded to multiple reports of mudslides swallowing houses and people being trapped, with access roads blocked by mud or gushing water, officials said.

Troops have been deployed with nearly 100 millimeters of rain falling in an hour in some areas.

“Particularly in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures, we are seeing the heaviest rain that (the region) has ever experienced,” the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Kyodo news agency put the death toll at 17.

Kumamoto Prefecture confirmed the deaths of five women in their 60s, 70s and 80s and an 87-year-old man after waters destroyed their houses.

The local government has received reports of at least 19 missing people, many of them swept away by swollen rivers or going missing after their homes were destroyed.

“Unfortunately, we believe the numbers (of dead and missing) will rise as we get more and more information from the field,” a Kumamoto spokesman told AFP.

Local emergency responders have received “many requests” for rescue operations, the spokesman added.

“We may get more rain later and we are increasing our alert level for rivers overflowing,” another Kumamoto official said.

In neighboring Oita Prefecture, a man in his 70s died after being swept into a raging river, while another man remained missing.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda promised full relief efforts to help affected residents.

“I have heard that this is a record for heavy rainfall. We will take effective measures,” he said in a legislative session.

SDF troops have been deployed to the region for disaster relief efforts at the request of local governors.

The prime minister’s office in Tokyo has established a liaison office to coordinate efforts among central government ministries to deal with the disaster.

In Kumamoto Prefecture, more than 17,000 households had been ordered to evacuate, with 5,000 more advised to seek shelter elsewhere.

Oita authorities issued evacuation orders to nearly 15,000 people and advised a further 10,000 to leave.

In all, more than 50,000 people in Oita and Kumamoto received evacuation orders, according to local media.

© 2012 AFP

  • 3

    DenTok2009

    I'm in Chiba. I went for a walk along the Edogawa river and boy, is it windy! I was wondering if a typhoon was heading this way.

  • 2

    Maria

    Tremendous winds and rains in Aichi overnight - about as bad as that typhoon a couple weeks back, and longer-lasting. Such weather we're having!

  • 0

    basroil

    Second time in a year, looks like JSDF needs to start better public works projects.

  • 5

    Laguna

    They've spent the last two years widening the river that flows through central Kumamoto by some 10 meters and raising the banks by a meter - just finished in May actually; the flood waters peaked just a few centimeters below this new height. I hope these "100-year floods" won't truly become common occurrences....

  • 2

    Lilic

    Due to the heavy rain in Kyushu, Japan, All telecommunications company is being offer disaster message boards, message dial service (171). http://tenki.jp/docs/note/bousai/ ◇ communications company profile pages: NTT West Japan:http://www.ntt-west.co.jp/ docomo:http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/ au:http://www.au.kddi.com/ softbank:http://mb.softbank.jp/mb/customer.html

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    There are no tropical disturbances in the Western Pacific at the moment, though there were a couple recently to the south of Japan which didn't amount to much. Some of this could be the effect, though it seems too much and too long-lasting. I will say that Kyushu REALLY is getting it so far this year, and I hope they soon instead get some relief. Hang in there peeps, and RIP to those we've lost.

  • 1

    Tiger_In_The_Hermitage

    I was in Oita in May this year, hope everyone there are safe and may the bad weather turn good very soon.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Sadly people die every year doing stupid things like that. Safety first!

    Duh! Which is why he made the comment.

    Was really windy here last night and all day today. Has finally stopped raining now!

  • 0

    warispeace

    We are seeing drastic weather around the world from extreme climate change. Some of this is caused by human activity tied to growth and fossil fuel based economies. As long as the focus remains on increasing GDP, nothing will change and we should expect more of these grim reports.

  • 0

    Foxie

    The pictures on TV look terrible. Stay safe everyone down there. This rain is coming from the West and there is much more to come if you look on the satellite picture.

  • 3

    Mark Bradley

    Due to the surface temperatures of the planet rising 0.5% from the green house effect a record number of floods have occurred in the past few years. Notable floods include Australia, Pakistan, China, South Korea, and floods near the Mississippi in USA. These floods were all never before recorded in those areas. This doesn't even includes floods in 2011, 2012... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listoffloods#2010s

    Why? Because the extra 5% moisture in the atmosphere is swept up and accumulates as a weather system moves across the ocean. This increases the amount of precipitation in some areas, while in others the moisture is being sucked out of the earth causing barren wastelands.

  • 2

    Matthew Simon

    I live in Nagasaki and the past month it has rained over 45 inches (115 cm) according to my rain gauge. Its been the most rainy year I can remember.

  • 2

    Kristianna Thomas

    The flooding,droughts, forest fires, mild winters, and now crop failures are all due to climate change. In the US there have been record heat waves that have taken the lives of many people; as well as the flooding and forest fires. Off the coast of British Columbia in Canada, now rests a glacier that has drifted from the Arctic and is lodged and is now a tourist attraction. Is this the tip of the iceberg of things to come. Now we have hurricanes that is being generated in the Pacific Ocean from the coast of South America that is heading towards Hawaii . I have a feeling that we will see hurricanes that will make the islands with category 4 or 5 as the Pacific Ocean warms up.

    Yes. If this is caused by human activity. Then we can create the solution to reverse the trend of Climate Change.

    No carbon tax. No shell games. Industry should clean up its act and stop polluting. Period.

  • 0

    Tom Collins

    I lived in Oita city for 3 years, near the river too... I hope my friends are okay.

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