No further information immediately available.
Published Thursday, July 19, 2018
Some 160 000 people were ordered or advised to evacuate on July 5 after the Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings that record rainfall is expected across the country.
The number of people ordered or advised to evacuate rose to 4.72 million on July 7 as JMA said there is an imminent risk of a serious disaster on a scale that has not been seen for decades.
By that time, there were already dozens of dead and missing and more than 70 000 rescuers mobilized. Heavy rains were still falling, rivers bursting their banks and landslides crushing homes throughout the region.
There was really no way to reach and offer timely assistance to hundreds of thousands who needed it, especially since traditional Japan homes are made of wood, excellent for earthquakes but deadly for fast-moving water mixed with mud, rocks and branches.
What we also need to understand here is that the majority of people decided to ignore warnings, as humans usually do.
In addition, many of the dead are elderly people whose houses were submerged in a short period of time, leaving them no time to evacuate.
269 000 households remain without drinking water and at least 2 300 are without power. Thousands of houses have been damaged or destroyed and phone lines are down across multiple prefectures. Many railroads and highways are still closed, further complicating repair efforts, rescue operations, and aid delivery.
"Going by the scale of the disaster alone, it's on the same level as that of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011," said associate professor Yuki Matsushi of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University.
An official of the city of Hiroshima, where landslides claimed the lives of 77 people in 2014, commented, "We've had no experience of disasters occurring like this over a wide area at the same time."
The death toll has reached 220 on July 18 with 10 people still missing.
The country is currently suffering severe heatwave in which at least 15 people died between July 14 and 18 and more than 10 000 were sent to hospitals.
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