Japan issues evacuation orders as torrential rain batters northern regions

A local resident is aided by Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers during the evacuation from an isolated area hit by heavy rain in Toho village, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan on July 8, 2017.
A local resident is aided by Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers during the evacuation from an isolated area hit by heavy rain in Toho village, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan on July 8, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - Japan has issued evacuation orders as its northern regions of Fukushima and Niigata prefectures were battered by torrential rain on Tuesday (July 18), with threats of floods and landslides.

Rivers in western Fukushima were in danger of overflowing and there were concerns of potential landslides, local media reported. Some 4,300 people living in a town in the region were ordered to evacuate.

In Niigata Prefecture, 1,400 residents were ordered to evacuate to shelters, Xinhua news agency reported. Some 20,000 people from cities and towns in the district that face the Sea of Japan were also issued evacuation orders.

Xinhua added that the downpour has led to the suspension of some of East Japan Railway's services in the Tohoku region.

There has been no reports of injuries or fatalities so far in the northern regions. However, the death toll in rain-battered southwestern Japan rose to 34 on Monday, according to Xinhuha.

Around 2,700 Self-Defence Forces officers and firefighters are still searching for those reported missing since the rain started on July 5, said Xinhua.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, the death toll from the torrential rains that devastated the central regions over the weekend rose to four, with two still missing, the nation's disaster control agency said on Monday.

The Korea Herald reported that restoration works are underway in the rain-hit Gyeongsang and Chungcheong provinces, as downpours subsided.

North Gyeongsang Province, which received up to 90mm of rain per hour between Friday and Sunday afternoon, was the hardest hit. Two died in landslides in Cheongju, while two others were found dead after being swept away by floodwaters in Goesan County.

At least 517 people across the country were evacuated, with 686 homes, 14 schools and 4,962 hectares of farmland submerged in floodwaters. At least 52 vehicles were reported to have suffered flood damage.