More than 60 people are feared dead in floods in Japan
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50 people have been confirmed dead but at least 61 are believed to have died in the torrential rains that have swept across southwest Japan since last weekend.
During Wednesday, the storm moved north. The government has promised to double the rescue effrts to 80,000 people - not just firefighters but also police officers, soldiers, coastguards and volunteers.
"We haven't set a deadline for when the operation will be completed, but we really need to speed up the search operations as time goes on. We will not give up until it is over", said local official Yutaro Hamasaki in the worst affected region of Kumamoto.
Handicapped people drowned on the lower floors
Flooded rivers have broken though bridges and severely flooded many roads. Several resorts can now only be reached by helicopter or boat.
Fourteen of those killed were wheelchair users who could not reach the upper floors of the building where they were located.
"We couldn't go to the street level, because it was completely underwater. Some managed to get up a flight of stairs. I have never experienced anything like it", a rescue worker said to Japanese television.
Complications to evacuate due to the pandemic
The authorities' efforts to evacuate and provide shelter are complicated by the corona pandemic , as mass gatherings need to be avoided at temporary shelters.
Japan is in the middle of the annual rainy season. The rainfall has become increasingly intense as it has become warmer in recent years.
The storm has now continued north and on Wednesday the meteorological authority warned Gifu and Nagano, in the central parts of the country, of heavy rainfall.
A flooded river destroying a community during the 2020 torrential rain storm in Japan. (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan) Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.