Heavy rain continued to fall over vast areas of Japan on Monday, with at least four people dead and five missing due to related landslides.
The Meteorological Agency said more heavy rain is forecast for areas from western Japan to the northeastern parts of the country in the coming days, as a stationary front is expected to remain parked over the archipelago this week.
The agency said even small amounts of precipitation could trigger flooding and mudslides, as the land may have already been saturated with rain from the past few days.
As of Monday morning, the country’s land ministry confirmed 62 cases of rain-triggered mudslides in 17 prefectures and 36 rivers that have overrun their banks in nine prefectures, damaging homes and disrupting transportation.
In the city of Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, Yuki Makibuchi, 41, and her sons Haruki, 12, and Naoki, 7, died after a mudslide struck a house early Sunday morning. Another teenage boy and a man in his 40s were taken to the hospital with slight injuries.
Masao Makibuchi, the 68-year-old grandfather of the two boys who died in the disaster, said he heard a loud noise in the morning and found that sediment from a mountain behind the house had hit the second floor.
Makibuchi, who stayed in the house together with the three, said he tried to push aside mud to save his daughter-in-law and grandsons but could not even progress by 1 meter. “I was with them just a moment ago, and they’re gone in an instant,” he said.
The downpours also triggered a mudslide Friday in the city of Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, leaving a 59-year-old woman dead and her husband, 67, and their daughter, 32, missing, according to the city government. Rescue workers continued their search for them on Monday.
The Nagasaki police are also investigating the association between the rain and the deaths of two women in their 70s, who were found collapsed in a drain on Saturday in the city of Saikai.
Another three people remain missing in Hiroshima and Kumamoto prefectures.
On Sunday local authorities issued highest-level alerts covering about 1.83 million people in seven prefectures at one point, calling on them to take steps to ensure their safety, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
In the 24 hours through noon Tuesday, up to 250 millimeters of rainfall was forecast in northern Kyushu, up to 200 mm in southern Kyushu and the Shikoku region, and up to 120 mm across the Kinki and Chugoku areas.
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