Tropical storm Etau strikes Japan
JAPAN evacuated about 100,000 people from their homes yesterday, after rare torrential rains unleashed floods that left about seven people missing.
In the city of Joso, about 56km north of Tokyo in Ibaraki prefecture, the Kinugawa river broke its banks and destroyed homes and cars, leaving many residents stranded on balconies and rooftops where they waited for help, the Agence France-Presse reported.
Some areas in Japan received double the usual September rainfall within 48 hours after tropical storm Etau swept across the central part of the main island of Honshu on Wednesday, reported Reuters.
A 63-year-old woman was missing after a landslide hit her home in Kanuma city in Tochigi prefecture, which lies west of Ibaraki.
Two men buried in a mudslide in Tochigi's Nikko city were rescued, but one remained unconscious, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
More than a dozen people were injured, including a 77-year-old woman who broke her leg after falling in strong winds, local reports said.
Part of a hotel in Nikko, famed for its shrines and temples, had collapsed, the Kyodo news agency said, but there were no reports of injuries.
The contaminated water problem at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant was also exacerbated as huge rains overwhelmed the site's drainage pumps and sent radiation-tainted water into the ocean.
"This is a scale of downpour that we have not experienced before," forecaster Takuya Deshimaru said at an emergency press conference.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: "The government will stand united and do its best to deal with the disaster... by putting its highest priority on people's lives."
Military personnel were sent to the Joso area to help with the rescue mission.
Dramatic rescue scenes of helicopters airlifting people to safety at Joso played out on television.
"The prefecture has requested assistance from the Self-Defence Forces and police helicopters from the region. We are receiving their help," a prefectural official of Tochigi said.
"We do not have updated information about the damage, but we know it is extensive and affected wide areas," he added.
The Tochigi authorities ordered more than 90,000 residents to evacuate, while another 116,000 were advised to leave their homes, NHK said.
In Ibaraki, at least 20,000 were ordered to evacuate for fear of floodings.
Etau moved out into the Sea of Japan or East Sea by the end of Wednesday, but a wall of rain continued to lash the country.
The downpour is expected to stop today.