Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Death toll rises to 7 in rain disaster, 15 missing

The bodies of three men were found in inundated areas in Ibaraki and neighboring Tochigi prefectures on Sunday, bringing the total death toll from recent heavy rain and flooding to seven in the two prefectures and Miyagi Prefecture.

One of the bodies was discovered in a submerged minivehicle in the city of Tochigi in Tochigi Prefecture around 7:30 a.m. The Tochigi prefectural police department identified the man as Osamu Ogura, a 68-year-old nearby resident. He drowned, the police said.

The other two were found in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, which has been heavily damaged by floodwaters from the Kinugawa river after a levee of the river collapsed Thursday. The body of a 51-year-old man was detected in a rice paddy about one kilometer east of the breached levee around 11:45 a.m. Sunday, and that of Kanaya Kurita, 71, was found in a rice field about one kilometer southeast of the levee around 2 p.m.

In Joso, areas east of the Kinugawa river have been flooded, and nearly 4,000 people were rescued by Self-Defense Forces helicopters or boats, or by other means, in three days.

Still, 15 other people in the city remained unaccounted for. The Ibaraki prefectural police are working to confirm their whereabouts. A total of 1,880 firefighters, Self-Defense Forces troops and police officers searched flooded areas in the city on Sunday.

The inundated areas in Joso, which had peaked at about 40 square kilometers, shrank to about 15 square kilometers Sunday. But about 2,700 Joso citizens remained evacuated.

In a related move, Joso Mayor Toru Takasugi offered an apology Sunday for not issuing an evacuation order for residents in the city’s Kamimisaka district, which is near the broken Kinugawa river levee, before the breach.

Admitting his mistake, Takasugi said at a press conference: “I didn’t think the levee would collapse. I’m very sorry.” The Kamimisaka district was heavily damaged by the flooding of the Kinugawa river.

The levee breached around 12:50 p.m. Thursday. An evacuation order was issued at 1:08 p.m. for areas east of the Kinugawa river, including Kamimisaka, part of the Misaka area, while such an order was in place by 10:30 a.m. the same day for some other parts of the Misaka area.

Meanwhile, the Japan Meteorological Agency on Sunday issued a warning against heavy rain and thunder for some areas in Ibaraki Prefecture toward late Sunday night.

Flood damage could expand in areas around the swollen Kinugawa river. A flood warning has been issued in Joso and Chikusei, also in the prefecture.

Tuesday 15 August 2015.



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