Three campers drown in Kanagawa after vehicle overturns in river

Kyodo

A vehicle carrying a family of four overturned Friday while attempting to ford a rain-swollen river at a mountainous camping site in the town of Yamakita, Kanagawa Prefecture, killing the mother and two children, local police said.

Their bodies were recovered from late Friday to early Saturday. One was identified as the mother, Rumi Omori, 42. The bodies of her son Gaifu, 7, and daughter Mana, 9, were identified Saturday morning, according to the police.

Shinya Omori, the 43-year-old father, managed to free himself from the vehicle. He said they were trying to cross the Nakagawa River to evacuate after heavy rain flooded their campsite, Wellcamp Nishi-Tanzawa, about 25 km east of Mount Fuji on Friday night, the police said.

According to witnesses and residents near the camping site, downpours began hitting the area around 7:30 p.m., setting off a flash flood that raised the depth of the usually shallow river to about 2 meters, they said.

Acquaintances of the family were in shock.

“The couple were always active and their children were polite. It was such a nice family,” said Takeshi Kobayashi, a 78-year-old neighbor. “I wonder why they had to suffer such a plight.”

Jun Motohashi, the principal of Katase Elementary School in Fujisawa, where Mana and Gaifu were students, also lamented the loss.

“Mana was a bright pupil and had a lot of friends, while Gaifu was always playing the dodge ball with his friends during recess,” he said.