• Kyodo


All 15 people reported missing amid the severe flooding in Ibaraki Prefecture have been located and are safe, authorities said Tuesday.

While all those listed as missing in the disaster have now been accounted for, police and firefighters continued their search operations as the entire picture of the damage is not yet known, including in the still-inundated city of Joso.

“As the telephone lines were restored, we were able to get in touch with more people who returned home when the flood water receded,” an official from the Ibaraki Prefectural Government told a news conference in Joso.

Seven people are known to have died amid the torrential rain that accompanied last week’s typhoon. There was widespread flooding, in particular after a levee along the Kinugawa River ruptured in Joso on Thursday.

The prefecture had reported 15 people missing as of Saturday morning based on figures released by the Joso Municipal Government. The city drew up the list after assessing requests people made for rescue teams to find certain individuals.

As two people found dead in Joso were not on the list, the prefectural government is now checking whether any other people remain unaccounted for.

The death toll comprises three victims in Tochigi Prefecture, two in Ibaraki and two in Miyagi Prefecture. Police said 24 people sustained injuries in Ibaraki, three in Tochigi and two in Miyagi.

The central government meanwhile said that more than 150 bags containing waste collected from radiation cleanup work in farmlands following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis were damaged by the heavy rains, resulting in their contents leaking.

The bags, each weighing 200 to 300 kg, had been deposited in farmlands in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture.

They were swept away by floodwaters after nearby rivers overflowed their banks.

Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki apologized for the incident but said the environmental impact is believed to be “small” as the contents were mainly weeds that had been mowed recently.

According to the Environment Ministry, 393 bags were found to have been swept into rivers as of 7 p.m. Tuesday. At least 167 were damaged, while 153 of them were empty.

Of the 167 bags, 97 contained weeds that had been cut in order to decontaminate farmlands and 15 bags contained soil. The ministry said it did not know the contents of the remaining 55 bags.

On rebuilding after the flooding, land minister Akihiro Ota said Tuesday that the government plans to complete repairs to the banks of the Kinugawa River and draining the floodwater by the end of the week.

The torrential rainfall also hit harvests, wiping out a large portion of rice crops in the affected areas, including one famous for Koshihikari-brand rice grown with water from the Kinugawa River.

Damage to wet rice cultivation is estimated at ¥1.4 billion as 2,200 hectares of paddies were affected.

However, that amount does not include the damage in Joso, where more than 2,000 of the 4,600 hectares of rice fields are believed to have been flooded, the Ibaraki Prefectural Government said.

The flooding also hit other agricultural products, with the total damage to vegetables adding up to ¥440 million, according to the prefectural government.


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