Tokyo, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- The authorities in southwestern and central Japan on Friday have called for exercising caution against the continuous rains that have lashed the region and sought the evacuation of more than 230,000 people.
Heavy incessant rains over the past week has caused severe flooding, and could possibly lead to rivers overflowing and landslides.
The southern island of Kyushu has experienced heavy rainfall since July 2 and has been the hardest-hit region in the country, accounting for more than 60 deaths caused by storms.
Authorities in Hitoyoshi, in Kumamoto Prefecture, reported on Friday that they were unable to contact 40 people, in addition to the 16 officially missing across the country, according to the latest data released by state broadcaster NHK.
More than 5,900 homes have been damaged in 19 of the country’s 47 prefectures, while authorities continue to assess the extent of the losses.
Fields and greenhouses have been inundated and residents have struggled to clean their houses and shops by themselves, since heavy machinery has been unable to access several areas due to damaged roads.
The authorities have called for the evacuation of more than 230,000 people, mainly in the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka, as well as in the central Gifu prefecture, including the more than 40,000 residents of the city of Gero.
Experts pointed out that one of the reasons for the severe damages in the region has been the abnormally high amount of rainfall over an extended period of time.
Besides the economic damage, heavy rains represent logistical complications especially at a time when Covid-19 infections in Japan have been on the rise.
Evacuation centers have been taking precautions, such as separating refugees using cardboard structures or other material, and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has called for extreme caution given the unstable weather conditions, and predicted more rainfall over the weekend, which could lead to further disasters in the region.
Torrential rains are expected to also affect the northern half of the country.
Weather officials have also warned of flooding in low-lying areas, overflowing rivers, as well as lightning strikes and sudden wind gusts. EFE-EPA