Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Historic Floods in Japan Kill More Than 100, Force Millions to Flee

Climate
An aerial view of flooded houses in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture on July 8, 2018. STR / AFP / Getty Images

At least 109 people have died in Japan following historic flooding and mudslides over the weekend that prompted evacuation orders covering about five million people, The Guardian reported Monday.

The flooding was prompted by Japan's heaviest rainfall in decades. Parts of western Japan saw three times July's regular rainfall since Thursday, BBC News reported.


"We've never experienced this kind of rain before," a weather official told BBC News.

What The Guardian labeled the country's worst weather disaster since 2011 is in line with government predictions for the impact of climate change on Japan. A 2012 report found that global warming could increase the risk of flooding and landslide disasters due to heavy rain.

"The record rainfalls in various parts of the country have caused rivers to burst their banks, and triggered large scale floods and landslides in several areas," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told CNN Sunday.

Naoaki Ogawa, a 69-year-old from Hiroshima, told BBC News how a landslide trapped him in his car.

"I turned the car to the right, and saw another wave of mud ... sweep away three cars that were in front of me," he said. "I have lived here for more than 20 years, but there has never been something like this. I was so scared."

As rains dissipated Sunday, the search and rescue operation kicked off in earnest.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a trip planned this week to France, Belgium, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and dedicated more than 70,000 workers to relief efforts.

He said relief personnel were "working against time," according to BBC News.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help," he said.

One such person was Shigeyuki Asano, a 79-year-old patient who was one of 170 evacuated from a hospital balcony in Kurashiki via paddle boat Sunday, according to The Guardian.

"I'm really grateful to the rescuers," Asano said. "I feel so relieved that I've been freed from such a bad-smelling, dark place."

The rains began with a typhoon last week, according to BBC News, and have been especially destructive in the southwest, including the city of Hiroshima, The Guardian reported.

The rains damaged thousands of homes and left nearly 17,000 without power, CNN reported.

There are now concerns that a heat wave could further endanger those left without power.

"We cannot take baths, the toilet doesn't work and our food stockpile is running low," Yumeko Matsui told The Guardian.

While the weekend's floods were historic, they are part of a pattern in increased heavy rainfall that could be linked to climate change. The 2012 government study, Climate Change and Its Impacts in Japan, found that the number of days with one millimeter (approximately 0.04 inches) or more of rain had decreased while the number of days with 100 millimeters (approximately four inches) or more of rain had increased.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The CDC has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guido Mieth / Moment / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
A California newt (Taricha torosa) from Napa County, California, USA. Connor Long / CC BY-SA 3.0

Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.

Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images

Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A customer packs groceries in reusable bags at a NYC supermarket on March 1, 2020. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.

Read More Show Less
Ingredients are displayed for the Old School Pinto Beans from the Decolonize Your Diet cookbook by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. Melissa Renwick / Toronto Star via Getty Images

By Molly Matthews Multedo

Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.

Read More Show Less