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More than 100 000 flee heavy floods in Japan

FLOOD DEVASTATION: A young woman holds belongings rescued from a car stranded in the floods due to heavy rain generated by typhoon Etau in the residential area of Koshigaya, in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo in Japan yesterday Picture:. 10 September 2015. According to local media reports, one person was feared dead and another missing and some 150000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes as flooding and mudslides hit eastern Japan Picture: EPA. The Japan Meteorological Agency was warning of further mudslides and swollen rivers in eastern and north-eastern Japan with heavy rain pounding the region even after Typhoon Etau weakened into an extratropical depression. EPA/FR
FLOOD DEVASTATION: A young woman holds belongings rescued from a car stranded in the floods due to heavy rain generated by typhoon Etau in the residential area of Koshigaya, in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo in Japan yesterday Picture:. 10 September 2015. According to local media reports, one person was feared dead and another missing and some 150000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes as flooding and mudslides hit eastern Japan Picture: EPA. The Japan Meteorological Agency was warning of further mudslides and swollen rivers in eastern and north-eastern Japan with heavy rain pounding the region even after Typhoon Etau weakened into an extratropical depression. EPA/FR
Unprecedented rain in Japan unleashed heavy floods yesterday that tore houses from their foundations, uprooted trees and forced more than 100000 people from their homes.

Helicopters hovering over swirling, muddy waters rescued many people from the roofs of their homes. Two people were missing and at least 17 injured.

Some areas received double the usual September rainfall in 48 hours after tropical storm Etau swept across Japan’s main island of Honshu. In some places, rain-swollen rivers burst their banks.

A 63-year-old woman was missing in a landslide that hit her home, while a man in his seventies in the town of Joso, 56km north of Tokyo, was feared trapped when water engulfed his home, NHK national television said.

“We heard a huge sound like a thunderclap, and then the hillside came down,” a man told NHK, referring to the landslide that swept away his neighbour.

Television broadcast footage of helicopters winching people to safety, including an elderly couple clutching a pair of struggling dogs as the flood tore away pieces of their home.

A further 800000 people were at one point advised to evacuate after officials issued predawn warnings of “once-in-a-half-century rains” to five million people in areas east and north of Tokyo.

Japan has put heavy emphasis on disaster prevention since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 20000 people and authorities are keen to avoid criticism for what was seen as a sluggish response.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of more rain and said he was setting up an emergency centre.

“The government will work as one to prioritise the safety of the people and do our best to prevent any further disaster,” Abe told reporters.

Television footage showed people in Joso waving towels while waiting for help on the upper floors of homes engulfed in floods after the overflowing Kinugawa river swept through. “I thought I was safe because I live on a hill, but pretty soon the water came up and everything was washed away,” a barefooted man told Fuji TV after his helicopter rescue.

Up to 12 military helicopters took part in the rescue along with an initial 55 members of Japan’s military, the Self Defence Force. Officials said their number would rise.

Rescue workers rushed to find people before nightfall.

Part of a hotel in the town of Nikko, famed for its shrines and temples, had collapsed, Kyodo news agency said, but there were no reports of injuries.

Rainfall reached 500mm around Joso, NHK said, with officials expecting at least 200mm more in parts of eastern Japan. — Reuters

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