National

About 5,900 flood evacuees still in shelters; Tokyo moves to expedite aid

JIJI, Kyodo

About 5,900 people were still at shelters as of Friday night, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, a week after special storm warnings were issued in eight prefectures in western and southwestern Japan.

The death toll from floods and landslides caused by the rain has reached 209 across 14 prefectures, the National Police Agency said Saturday, and many others are still missing. The number of deaths stood at 100 in Hiroshima Prefecture, 59 in Okayama and 26 in Ehime.

The Cabinet on Saturday designated floods and mudslides from the storm as an extraordinary disaster under the relevant special law. This will allow the victims to receive special administrative benefits, such as an extension of the validity of a driver’s license and business permits for restaurants and other shops.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave instructions regarding the designation the same day during a meeting at the disaster response headquarters set up for the disaster. As of 1 p.m. Friday, 619 landslides and other sediment disasters had occurred in 31 prefectures, causing the closure of a combined seven sections on seven expressways and 63 combined sections on 39 national routes. Japan Freight Railway Co. and nine other railroads had halted runs on 24 lines.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, evacuation orders and advisories had been issued for some 48,000 households, or roughly 109,000 people, in at least 14 prefectures as of 3 p.m. Friday.

The central government decided to disburse ¥2.1 billion from its contingency reserves to provide emergency assistance to afflicted areas. “The government will procure such emergency supplies as water, food, air conditioners and temporary toilets, all indispensable to people in disaster areas,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said.

The government earmarked ¥350 billion in the reserves in its fiscal 2018 initial budget.