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13 July 2018, 04:06 | Devin Moran
At Least 88 Dead as Heavy Rainfall Hits Japan
Japan monitors weather conditions and issues warnings early, but its dense population means every bit of usable land, including potential flood plains, is built on in the mostly mountainous country, leaving it prone to disasters.
In areas where search-and-rescue operations had ended, construction workers and residents worked in neighborhoods to clear mud and debris and restore vehicle access to the outside and get supplies and food.
The death toll continued to rise while government stepped up search and rescue efforts after torrential rain pummeled western Japan, causing flooding and landslides.
Residents sheltering at the Yano school were provided with water, blankets and cellphone chargers.
"It is an undeniable fact that this sort of disaster due to torrential, unprecedented rains is becoming more frequent in recent years", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference in Tokyo.
"The area became an ocean", 82-year-old resident Nobue Kakumoto told AFP Sunday, surveying the scene.
"We have to prioritize (which train services) can resume, according to their importance", a JR West official said. But a local volunteer, Yuki Sato, 25, said local convenience stores were obviously in short supply, so she didn't buy anything there because she wanted to save them for the evacuees or others who can't drive out of town.
Since 2005, districts have been required to create and raise awareness of "hazard maps" for areas at risk of landslides and flooding.
Many major highways and rail lines are still closed and tens of thousands of homes in Hiroshima are still without electricity or clean water.
"What we are getting is a thin stream of water, and we can't flush toilets or wash our hands", he added, standing over a 20-litre (4.4-gallon) plastic tank that was only partly filled after nearly four hours of waiting. Te weather agency said daytime temperatures could reach 35 degrees Celsius in the coming week.
Abe visited an evacuation center Wednesday in a hard-hit flood zone in western Japan.
Also, in Mihara in the prefecture, a water intake facility was submerged.
Raging floods in Japan have killed over 100 people and sparked mass-evacuation orders for several million residents of the island nation.
A government task force was established to speed up recovery to the worst affected areas.
To support efforts to maintain public health, the government's Disaster Health Emergency Assistance Team started working in Kurashiki, also in the prefecture, in its first mission since its inception in March.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a disaster response meeting Thursday recalled seeing "horrendous" damage during his visit the previous day to Kurashiki city, where a river broke through its embankment and flooded a wide area. The Japan Meteorological Agency said as much as 10 centimetres of rain per hour fell on large parts of southwestern Japan.
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