National

Western Japan marks first anniversary of deadly mudslides and flooding that killed 275

Kyodo

Memorial services were held Saturday to mark the first anniversary of flooding and mudslides triggered by torrential rains in western Japan that claimed the lives of 275 people.

The worst rain disaster in decades killed 137 people in Hiroshima Prefecture, 79 in Okayama Prefecture and 33 in Ehime Prefecture. More than 10,000 people are still living in temporary housing in the three hardest-hit regions.

“Those affected by the disaster remain worried about the possibility of another disaster and what the future holds for them. We will make full efforts at restoration,” Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki said at a memorial ceremony in Saka.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said at a separate ceremony that his government will push ahead with polices to help people “live in safety.”

Kenjiro Katayama, who lost his mother and sister in the disaster, said at the ceremony it is important to continue to think about measures to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

“I’m determined to live positively for the rest of my life,” he said.

The Meteorological Agency issued emergency warnings about potential severe flooding and landslides, with evacuation orders or advisories issued for 4.72 million people at one point.

About 16,000 houses were damaged or destroyed in the three hardest-hit prefectures, while many of the victims — who were spread across 14 prefectures — were 60 or over.

“I want to return home but I fear what will happen if we have heavy rain again,” said a 71-year-old woman in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.

More than 4,000 homes and buildings were flooded after a levee was breached in the Mabi area of the city.