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Sustained rains in Japan leave damage, landslide risks

This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on Aug. 5, 2022, shows the Takatoki River in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, overflowing due to heavy rain. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Torrential rains have continued to fall across a wide part of Japan on Friday, with record downpours reported in Fukui and Shiga prefectures as rivers have overflowed and many areas are left at increased risk of landslides.

    Fifty-two rivers across nine prefectures had broken their banks as of 5 p.m. amid three days of sustained heavy rainfall, the government said. It also said 22 landslides had occurred in six prefectures in the same period.

    The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning residents to be vigilant against further heavy rains into Saturday amid unstable atmospheric conditions sweeping the country from the west to the east.

    In response to the damage caused by the downpours, local governments and other authorities are rushing to support residents in places where lifelines including water have been cut.

    The weather agency said it recorded 405.5 milliliters of rainfall in the Fukui Prefecture town of Minamiechizen during the 24-hour period ending Friday morning -- 2.2 times its August average. Parts of Shiga and Shimane prefectures also saw record hourly precipitation.

    Damage to transportation infrastructure, including two collapsed railway bridges and a landslide blocking part of the Hokuriku Expressway in Fukui Prefecture, has also been confirmed.

    Police and other authorities were searching for two people in Iwate and Yamagata prefectures missing since Thursday. In the Ishikawa Prefecture city of Komatsu, two people were found with hypothermia after appearing to have been submerged in muddy water, the city government said.

    Speaking at a press conference Friday, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Tetsuo Saito said, "We are working to understand the full scale of the damage, and will do our utmost to respond."

    The rains so far have brought widespread damage to homes in the Tohoku region in the country's northeast and the Hokuriku region. Local governments and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force are working to restore water services.

    On Thursday, roughly 540,000 residents were urged to evacuate at one point due to heavy rain centering on northeastern and central parts of the country.

    In the 24 hours through 6 p.m. Saturday, up to 60 mm of rain was forecast for the Hokuriku region, up to 150 mm for the Tokai region in central Japan and 80 mm for the Kinki and Chugoku regions in the west.

    According to the weather agency, the heavy rains in the Hokuriku region have left it at high risk of landslides, with atmospheric instability expected to continue into Saturday in western and eastern Japan.

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