Several Dead or Missing Following Record Rainfall in Japan

Joshua Paulo
Joshua Paulo
Combining a Criminal Justice and International Relations background, Josh boasts years of experience in various forms of analysis and freelance journalism. He currently spearheads a team of professionals committed to delivering unbiased reporting to provide the public and private sector with accurate and insightful information. Josh serves as Atlas's Director of News.

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At least five people have been confirmed dead, with an unconfirmed number of several others missing, as seasonal rains turned into a torrential downpour in northern Kyushu, the southern island of mainland Japan.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a special rain warning covering eight municipalities as worsening storm conditions formed over Fukuoka, Oita, and Saga prefectures, likely extending the heavy rains for longer than expected.

(Photo – Kyodo/Reuters/AP)

This is the heaviest rain ever experienced [by the region]”, Satoshi Sugimoto, part of JMA’s forecast division, told reporters, adding, “There is a very high possibility that some kind of disaster has already occurred… The situation is such that lives are in danger and safety must be secured.”

Today, Fukuoka Prefecture issued it’s highest-level evacuation alert, covering 415,000 residents, with 12,500 residents of Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture also being issued the alert.

The maximum hourly rainfall in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, reached a new record of 91.5 millimeters (3.60 inches) as of 10 a.m. on July 10.

Landslides are a particularly prevalent issue in Japan during the rainy season, such as this in Karatsu, Saga prefecture, July 10, 2023. (Photo – AP/Kyodo News)

According to the prime minister’s office, a task force has been established to effectively manage the response to the rainfall.

Hirokazu Matsuno, the top government spokesman, informed reporters that there have been reports of numerous rivers flooding and landslides occurring in various parts of the country. He emphasized that the government is actively working to assess the extent of the damage and implementing measures with a priority on safeguarding people’s lives, saying, “We have received reports that several rivers have flooded… and that landslides have occurred in various parts. If you feel your life is in danger, even just a little, don’t hesitate to act.”

Landslides and heavy flooding have become a major concern for emergency services as several rivers overflow into the surrounding areas. In Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, two houses were swept away in a mudslide, with two men still missing and one woman found in extreme medical distress. A similar situation unfolded in Kurume, with one man missing following another landslide. Many are still unaccounted for following landslides. There have been several deaths due to the flooding as well, with several people, including an elderly man, being swept away by rushing waters or trapped in their cars.

The aftermath of a landslide in Karatsu, Saga prefecture on July 10, 2023. (Photo – AP/Kyodo News)

Due to the mountainous terrain in Japan, landslides pose a specific hazard during periods of heavy rainfall, as residences are frequently constructed on flat areas situated at the foot of slopes.

Heavy rain is also expected in Chugoku, Tokai, and Hokuriku as southwestern and central Japan brace for the seasonal rains to continue on.