Historic, heavy rains in southwest Japan has led to 38 fatalities, at least 50 reported missing, and over 4.72 million residents ordered or advised to evacuate their homes. Of the 4.72 million, an estimated 1.6 million people have been evacuated, reported USA Today. The rains have triggered mudslides and landslides that have killed people who got caught outside. Some of the worst-hit areas include the Okayama prefecture, according to Bloomberg.
So far, 48,000 people from the Self-Defense Forces, police, and firefighters are working on search and rescue missions. Another 21,000 troops are reportedly standing by awaiting orders. Japanese soldiers rescued people by boat in Hiroshima, while others were rescued from rooftops by helicopters. Military water trucks are also reportedly supplying water to those who need it.
The rains have caused flooding as deep as 16 feet in the most severely affected areas.
Fatality counts have not been deemed accurate yet. Those who have been reported killed include two young girls and their mother, who were swept away in a mudslide, a woman found in a home, and a 77-year-old Takashima man who fell into a river, detailed Reuters.
“The number of casualties is expected to increase as we are still in the middle of collecting information,” an official, Yoshinobu Katsuura, said.
“This is a record high rainfall which we never experienced.” Abe asked his cabinet to take “every measure to prevent the disaster from worsening by taking advance actions,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
Flooding is expected to continue in Gifu, Hiroshima, and Shimane, while southern, western, and central Japan expect additional rain, said the New York Times. The rain could continue through Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
A nursing home is reportedly flooded in Kurashiki City, although further details are still unknown.
Many people cried out for help on Twitter, as Japan Today described one woman’s please for help.
“Water came to the middle of the second floor… The kids could not climb up to the rooftop… My body temperature has lowered. Rescue us quickly. help us.”
Information about the people at the municipal shelters is still sparse, while social media buzzes with photos and video of the disaster-stricken country.
Familiar landscapes have been turned into giant rivers, as the extent of the damage is still unknown. With no apparent end of the torrential rains in sight for at least another day, conditions are expected to get worse.