Japan rescuers go house to house as flood toll hits 156

The record downpours that began last week have stopped and receding flood waters have laid bare the destruction that has cut a swathe through the west of the country.

Japan rescuers go house to house as flood toll hits 156

World Bulletin / News Desk

Rescue workers carried out house-to-house searches Tuesday in the increasingly unlikely hope of finding survivors after days of deadly floods and landslides that have claimed 156 lives in one of Japan's worst weather-related disasters for decades.

In the city of Kurashiki, the flooding engulfed entire districts at one point, forcing some people to their rooftops to wait for rescue.

By Tuesday morning, rescue workers were going door-to-door, looking for survivors -- or victims -- of the disaster.

"It's what we call a grid operation, where we are checking every single house to see if there are people still trapped inside them," an official with the local Okayama prefecture government told AFP.

"We know it's a race against time, we are trying as hard as we can."

Hideto Yamanaka was leading a team of around 60 firefighters dispatched from outside the prefecture searching homes.

"I'm afraid elderly people who were living alone may have failed to escape," said Yamanaka, 53.

"Physically weak people may have been late in getting out when it suddenly started raining hard, swamping the area," he told AFP.

In the Mabi district of Kurashiki, the water left behind a fine yellow silt that has transformed the area into moonscape.

Cars driving through kicked up clouds of dust. People walking around wore medical masks or covered their mouths with small towels to protect themselves against the particulates.

Stores were still closed, and inside one barber's shop the red sofas, customer chairs, and standing hair dryers were all covered with the same silt.

Fumiko Inokuchi, 61, was inside her home, sorting through the damage caused by floods that submerged the entire first floor.

She escaped the house on Saturday, crossing the street to take shelter in a three-storey care home for the elderly, from where she watched in horror as the waters rose.

"I saw my house sink underwater and I couldn't do anything at all, there was just nothing I could do. I felt helpless," she said, retrieving a photo of her children playing baseball.

"I got married here, and we built this house two years afterwards. We raised our three small sons to adulthood here, there are so many memories," she said, her eyes welling with tears.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Temmuz 2018, 10:59
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