Heavy thunderstorms in west leave two missing

Floods, mudslides strike towns; disaster risk said high

Kyodo

Parts of western Japan were deluged by rain early Sunday, triggering mudslides and floods that left at least two people missing in Shimane and Yamaguchi prefectures.

The storm prompted the weather agency to warn that “some areas are seeing unprecedentedly heavy rains” and to tell the public to be on the lookout for floods and mudslides.

The warning issued for the two prefectures in the Chugoku region, where heavy rain was expected until evening, is equivalent to the “special warning” designation the Meteorological Agency intends to introduce starting Aug. 30, agency officials said. The special warning means that the risk of a “serious disaster” is high.

The agency also said thunderstorms may hit the Tohoku region overnight.

The Shimane Prefectural Government asked the Self-Defense Forces for help after mudslides blocked roads and isolated 15 residents in mountainous Tsuwano, where a river overran its banks and swept away a house. The male resident was later rescued along with a woman, local officials said.

But another man, Satoshi Tanaka, 24, remained unaccounted for Sunday evening after evacuating his house. The Suwano town office had advised some 3,400 people in around 2,000 households to evacuate.

In the city of Yamaguchi, a man went missing after house on a hill was struck by a landslide from behind, but he was rescued at around 3:50 p.m. after being found inside. His condition is not life-threatening, the police said.

Similarly, a 68-year-old woman and her husband were found alive Sunday evening after their house in the town of Abu in the prefecture was destroyed by a landslide, local fire departments said. The woman, however, was not completely conscious.

In Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a 84-year-old man reportedly disappeared, prompting the prefectural government to request help from the local Ground Self-Defense Force post, which mobilized a rescue team of about 40 troops.

The Hagi city office advised some 1,600 residents of about 700 households to evacuate.

Both prefectures received record-breaking amounts of precipitation — Hagi had registered 138.5 mm of rain in a single hour through noon, while Tsuwano had logged 91.5 mm in a single hour until 4:45 a.m., the agency said.

Similarly fierce rains are believed to have struck other parts of Yamaguchi in the morning, it said, citing analysis of weather radar data.

The agency said some parts of Chugoku are expected to get up to 120 mm of rain by Monday evening. Heavy rain is also forecast for the Tokai, Kinki and Tohoku regions.

The thunderclouds developed in Chugoku when warm, wet air met a pressure trough of cold air over the Japanese archipelago, the agency said.