Floods and landslides in Japan: 1.4 million people to seek safety

In Japan, unprecedented rainfall floods entire residential areas. The highest warning level applies to 650,000 households on the island of Kyushu.

In western Japan, heavy rainfall led to severe landslides on Saturday. According to the prefecture in Nagasaki, a 59-year-old woman in Unzen was killed. Rescue workers continued to search for her husband and daughter in the mudslides.

Authorities in Hiroshima and the northern part of Kyushu issued the highest evacuation warning after the weather service reported an unprecedented amount of rain for the area. Public broadcaster NHK reported that 1.4 million people were ordered to leave their homes immediately.

Television images showed rescue workers pulling residents of the town of Kurume on inflatable boats through flooded streets. According to forecasts by meteorologists, the rainfall was expected to continue for several days.

In July, at least 21 people had already died in a massive landslide in the central Japanese coastal city of Atami. This was preceded by days of heavy rainfall.

Heavy rainfall and its consequences are not unusual in Japan. However, scientists believe that climate change is significantly increasing the risk of extreme weather. The highest alert level must now be triggered in areas where the risk of landslides and flooding is “otherwise not so high,” said Japanese weather expert Yushi Adachi.