By: Brittany Lockley/ BNC Journalist
A widespread flash flooding event has left 18 people dead and 14 people missing in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima in southwestern Japan, according to local authorities. Heavy downpours deluged prefectures Friday into Saturday.
On Saturday, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a warning for unprecedented rainfall. At least 270,000 people told to evacuate in four prefectures across the island.
According to the JMA, Kuma Village in Kumamoto saw a record-breaking 3.28 inches of rainfall in one hour on Saturday morning. Kanoya city, in Kagoshima, received 4.31 inches in an hour on Monday, the most seen for this area.
Record rainfall lashed the area causing the Kuma River, which flows through the Kumamoto prefecture to rise tremendously above its banks, washing away at least one bridge and flooding low lying areas cutting off citizens from rescue crews. To put it in perspective, floodwaters from this river rose as high as a two-story home.
The flooding disaster continues to unfold as crews work aimlessly to find survivors. Rescue efforts are difficult due to the risk of more mudslides, as heavy rain warning remains in place for or parts of Kumamoto and Kagoshima on Monday, with torrential rain and flooding continuing this week.
At least ten more inches of rain is expected within the next 24-hours through Tuesday, prompting the JMA to issue its highest-grade warning for flooding and mudslides across the two prefectures. The first time that is known to the JMA that these areas are placed under this warning.
Japan is in the middle of its rainy season, which frequently comes with deadly flooding and mudslides.