Joso braces for more rain as death toll from flood rises to eight

JIJI, Kyodo

Authorities and residents in water-logged Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Thursday were preparing for more heavy rain in the region just a week after a broken levee on the Kinugawa River caused last week’s deadly floods.

The Meteorological Agency said parts of Ibaraki might get up to 30 mm of rain an hour starting from 3 p.m. Thursday to Friday morning.

Although temporary repairs to the riverbank have just been completed, the land ministry has left 270 sand bags weighing a ton each near the breach on the east bank, and the site will be monitored by a security camera around the clock.

At Joso City Hall, Joso Mayor Toru Takasugi joined officials from the city, the fire department and the Self-Defense Forces at 8 a.m. Thursday to offer a silent prayer to the victims.

“For the city, it was an historic and unprecedented disaster,” said Takasugi. “We will coordinate with the prefecture and the central government and tackle it step by step. We will gather information on the rain today to prepare for another (potential) disaster.”

Meanwhile, the death toll from last week’s heavy rain in eastern and northeastern Japan rose to eight Wednesday when another body was found in Ibaraki.

The body is believed to be that of a man in his 40s who had been missing since he left his home in the town of Sakai early on Sept. 10, according to local authorities.

In Joso, which was hit by massive flooding that day, about 2,000 residents are still staying in evacuation centers.

Efforts to drain floodwater had reduced the total submerged area to 2 sq. km by Wednesday morning, compared with a peak of 40 sq. km.

Power has been restored to most of the 11,000 households that suffered blackouts during the flooding, excluding some in submerged areas.

With the expected heavy rain Friday, the Meteorological Agency called for vigilance against flooding and landslides.