Fukuoka – Recovery efforts continued Saturday in Japan’s southwestern Kyushu region, which has been battered by torrential rain over the last week that caused deadly flooding and landslides, leaving at least 16 people still missing.
The disaster has left 63 people dead in the region, and more rain is expected across a wide swath of the area. Assistance from volunteers has been hampered by the spread of the novel coronavirus, with many municipalities deciding to welcome help only from residents of their own prefectures.
In the past, disaster-affected communities in Japan have attracted volunteers from across the country, especially over the weekend.
“We have to finish clearing away debris as soon as possible,” said Tadanobu Umeyama, 79, who heads a team of volunteers in Oita Prefecture.
“We have a manpower shortage,” Umeyama added as he and 12 over volunteers cleaned out the mud from a traditional ryokan inn in Amagase hot spring resort in Hita.
According to the land ministry, 92 rivers in 10 prefectures have overflowed their banks, and there have been 251 cases of damage from landslides, about one-fifth of which occurred in Kumamoto Prefecture, hit hardest by the rain.
In the village of Kuma, in Kumamoto, Moriyoshi Yamaguchi, 74, lamented the intermittent rain.
“I was making progress on removing trash,” he said. “But rain continues and I don’t know when I can finish.”
In Hitoyoshi, also in the prefecture, dozens of trucks full of muddy straw tatami mats and other household items formed a long line before the opening of a temporary collection site for disaster refuse.
“I want to see the number of temporary collection sites increased,” said Kosuke Tashiro, 63, who was in line from 6 a.m.