National

Rescuers help hundreds of climbers stranded by heavy rains on Yakushima Island

Kyodo

At least 314 people stranded by heavy rains — many of them overnight — managed to descend a mountain on Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture with the help of rescuers from the Japan Coast Guard, the Ground Self-Defense Forces and others on Sunday.

Hikers in more than 10 cars and buses were forced to spend the night in the vehicles and in a mountain cabin when flooding and landslides blocked roads after a total of about 120 millimeters of rain fell per hour on Saturday. Some even spent the night outdoors while it was still raining.

Due to the adverse weather conditions, rescue operations did not commence until early Sunday morning.

Several of the hikers complained of pain or feeling unwell, and some were taken to the hospital. None were in serious condition, according to local officials.

The island, known for its famous Jomon cedar tree and 1,936-meter-high Mount Miyanoura, has been designated as a world natural heritage site by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

More than 300 people were stranded following the heavy rains.

The downpour caused a road near one of the starting points for hikers to cave in, officials at the Yakushima town office said.

The town office also issued an evacuation advisory for 6,667 households on the island.

On Saturday night, the Kagoshima Prefectural Government requested that GSDF personnel be dispatched to help rescue the stranded people.

Other areas in southern Kyushu also received heavy rain.

The Meteorological Agency warned that up to 200 mm could fall in Kagoshima and 180 mm could fall in Miyazaki Prefecture in a 24-hour period through 6 p.m. Sunday.