‘We have never experienced this kind of rain before,’ an official at the Japanese Meteorological Agency said.
At least 73 people have died and dozens are missing after floods and landslides in parts of western Japan, national broadcaster NHK World reported on Sunday. The toll is likely to rise further as more rain is expected in some areas for at least another day.
Authorities have ordered nearly 2 million people and advised 2.3 million to evacuate homes, Reuters reported. Landslide warnings are in place in over a quarter of Japan’s prefectures.
Seven people were in a critical condition and at least 63 were missing by 4.30 pm local time on Sunday, authorities said. The heavy rain has followed a typhoon that made landfall last week, but most deaths have been reported since Thursday.
Parts of western Japan have received three times their normal rainfall this month, setting off landslides and leaving many people trapped in their houses and on rooftops, Reuters reported.
“We have never experienced this kind of rain before,” an official at the Japanese Meteorological Agency told reporters. “This is a situation of extreme danger.”
The weather agency, however, said the seasonal rain front is likely to gradually weaken from Sunday, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
Around 54,000 rescuers from the military, police and fire departments have been sent to the affected regions. “There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Abe asked members of his Cabinet to do everything they can to assist the search and rescue work.
As much as 300 mm rain is predicted by Monday morning in parts of Shikoku island.
The Hiroshima prefecture was the worst hit, with 32 people dead, while 20 were killed in Ehime prefecture, according to NHK World. Fatalities were also reported in Okayama, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Fukuoka, Kochi, Gifu, Yamaguchi and Saga prefectures.