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

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

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.
Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Food
Workers collect salt crystals on Aug. 22 at Aigues-Mortes where the salt pans cover 10,000 hectares. PASCAL GUYOT / AFP / Getty Images

90% of Table Salt Is Contaminated With Mircroplastics

By Julia Conley

A year after researchers at a New York university discovered microplastics present in sea salt thanks to widespread plastic pollution, researchers in South Korea set out to find out how pervasive the problem is—and found that 90 percent of salt brands commonly used in homes around the world contain the tiny pieces of plastic.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Japan's cherry blossoms are unexpectedly blooming this autumn. Coniferconifer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cherry Blossoms are Blooming Across Japan. It's October.

Each year, Japan's iconic cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring. But after a bout of extreme weather, blooms are being reported several months early.

The Japanese weather site Weathernews said it had received more than 350 reports of blossoms throughout the country. The flowers usually appear in March or April.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Bloede Dam removal in process. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services / YouTube

4 Exciting Dam-Removal Projects to Watch

By Tara Lohan

For much of the 20th century humans got really good at dam building. Dams—embraced for their flood protection, water storage and electricity generation—drove industry, built cities and helped turn deserts into farms. The United States alone has now amassed more than 90,000 dams, half of which are 25 feet tall or greater.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
FoodPrint helps identify local and seasonal produce with its Seasonal Food Guide. FoodPrint / Facebook

Find Out Your 'Foodprint': New Website Helps You Shop, Cook and Eat More Sustainably

Two days after World Food Day, an innovative nonprofit has launched a website to help you reduce the environmental impact of the food you eat.

FoodPrint, designed by GRACE Communications Foundation, was created to educate consumers about everything that goes into common food items, from farm to fridge, so that they can make sustainable choices.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testified Aug. 1 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Acting EPA Head Is Still Unconfirmed After 100+ Days in Position

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), might continue to oversee the office without Senate confirmation until President Trump's term is over, according to reports from Bloomberg and the Huffington Post.

The former coal lobbyist has been the temporary EPA boss for more than 100 days ever since his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned in July after a long list of ethics scandals.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Volunteers prepare to take flow measurements on Muddy Creek. Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps / CC BY-ND

How Monitoring Local Water Supplies Can Build Community

By John M. Carroll

Water insecurity is a touchstone for 2018. Our planet isn't running out of water, but various kinds of mismanagement have led to local water crises across the planet, directly threatening millions of people.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Inti St Clair / Getty Images

When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers

By Richard Heinberg

Driving is dangerous. In fact, it's about the riskiest activity most of us engage in routinely. It requires one's full attention—and even then, things can sometimes go horribly awry. The brakes fail. Weather turns roads to ice. A driver in the oncoming lane falls asleep. Tragedy ensues. But if we're asleep at the wheel, the likelihood of calamity skyrockets. That's why distracted driving is legally discouraged: no cell phones, no reading newspapers or books, no hanky-panky with the front-seat passenger. If you're caught, there's a hefty fine.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Last month's temperatures across land and sea tied with 2017 as the fourth highest for September in the 1880-2018 record. NOAA

2018 Likely to Rank as Fourth-Hottest Year on Record

After a summer of record-breaking heatwaves and devastating wildfires, 2018 is shaping up to be one of the planet's hottest years in recorded history.

From January through September, the average global temperature was 1.39°F above the 20th century average of 57.5°F, making it the fourth warmest year-to-date on record, and only 0.43°F lower than the record-high set in 2016 for the same period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA) announced Wednesday. NOAA's global temperature dataset record dates back to 1880.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!