Torrential rain lashes Japan, 3 feared dead after landslide

Rescue workers surveying the damage in Takeo, a city in Saga prefecture, Kyushu.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAKEO, JAPAN - Torrential rain lashed much of Japan on Sunday (Aug 15), submerging roads and buildings in the western part of the country, while three people were feared dead after a landslide in central Nagano prefecture.

Large parts of Japan, particularly the southernmost main island of Kyushu, have seen record levels of rainfall, causing rivers to overflow and triggering landslides.

While the rain had stopped in much of Kyushu as of Sunday morning, Tokyo and other parts of the country were pounded by the downpour.

The Japanese government will hold a ministerial meeting on the heavy rains on Sunday afternoon, Kyodo News reported.

In Takeo, a city in Saga prefecture in Kyushu, roads were submerged and rescue workers in wetsuits dragged inflatable boats and surveyed the damage. Local residents carried broomsticks and buckets and waded knee-deep in water.

"I've experienced three floods like this so far, but this is the worst," said Dr Toshimi Kusumoto, 68, whose clinic was flooded.

Dr Kusumoto said he waited out the rain with his family on the second floor of his house, located just behind the clinic.

The water reached his house, too, meaning most of the appliances on the ground floor would have to be replaced. His garage was bent out of shape, presumably from the pressure of the water.

His son Daigo said their family was prepared for the flooding, but concerned over the frequency at which torrential downpours were pummelling the area, and was considering rebuilding the house to raise the ground level.

He had rebuilt the house only four years ago and it had been through two floods already. "It's a bit much if it happens this frequently," he said, while hosing down the mud in front of the house.

In 2019, Takeo was hit by a record-hitting downpour that killed three people. The government at the time estimated that such a deluge would happen only once every few decades.

"But what can you do?" said Dr Toshimi Kusumoto, with a slight shrug.

Mr Takayuki Haraguchi, 68, who works as a caretaker at a local sports centre, had come to survey the damage briefly when it was raining on Saturday.

"It looked no different from the sea," he said as he recalled what he saw on Saturday morning.

In Takeo, a city in Saga prefecture, Kyushu, roads were submerged. PHOTO: Reuters

He pointed out cars that had been submerged in muddy water and vending machines that would have to be replaced.

Elsewhere in Saga prefecture, 113 patients at a local hospital and 69 nursing home residents at the same site were safely evacuated to higher floors after flooding, public broadcaster NHK said.

Footage from NHK showed the hospital building and surrounding area flooded with water, which reached the tops of the tyres of cars in the hospital carpark.

Three people, including a boy under 10 years old, were without vital signs after a landslide hit a house in Okaya city in Nagano, while four people were missing in three other prefectures as of Sunday noon, NHK said.