National

Heavy rains leave at least 10 dead in Chiba and Fukushima prefectures as rescue efforts continue

Kyodo, AP

Search and rescue operations continued in eastern Japan on Saturday after torrential rains spurred landslides and flooding in areas still reeling from damage caused by typhoons, authorities said.

At least 10 people were confirmed dead and several others were missing in Chiba and Fukushima prefectures, police and other sources said.

In the city of Chiba, mudslides crushed three houses, killing three people who were buried underneath them. Another mudslide hit a house in the nearby city of Ichihara, killing a woman. Some other bodies were found in submerged cars.

In Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, the body of a woman was found near a beach.

Rescue workers using helicopters continued to search for survivors and winched people to safety after rivers overflowed and submerged vast swaths of land, including roads and railway tracks.

Ichihara saw more than 280 millimeters of rain over a 12-hour period Friday — more than the average monthly total for October — according to the Meteorological Agency.

While rains passed and floodwater subsided, parts of Chiba were still inundated. About 4,700 homes were out of running water and some train services were delayed or suspended. Power was restored Saturday at most of the 6,000 Chiba households that had lost electricity.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held an emergency task force meeting Saturday morning and called for “the utmost effort in rescue and relief operations.” He also urged quick repairs of electricity, water and other essential services to help restore the lives of the disaster-hit residents.

Some flights to Narita Airport were canceled Friday due to the rain, affecting travelers using one of the country’s largest international airports. Around 3,000 people spent the night at the airport as the downpours also disrupted train and bus connections to nearby cities.

A total of 15 rivers have flooded in Chiba Prefecture due to the rains, forcing more than 1,800 people to evacuate, the prefectural government said.

About 1,200 children were stranded at schools and other facilities and stayed overnight there. No children were injured or fell ill, and parents were able to pick them up Saturday, the prefecture said.

The downpour came as a result of a low-pressure system above the main island of Honshu that moved northward later Friday.

Two weeks ago, Typhoon Hagibis caused widespread flooding and left more than 80 people dead across Japan.

Yoshiki Takeuchi, an office worker who lives in a riverside house in the city of Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, said he had just finished temporary repairs to his roof after tiles were blown off by Typhoon Faxai in September when Friday’s rain hit.

“I wasn’t ready for another disaster like this. I’ve had enough of this, and I need a break,” he said.

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