Unprecedented rains in northern Japan have led to heavy floods and landslides on Friday, forcing more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes.
The Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures are the hardest-hit areas. Photos showed homes, cars and roads being washed away in the torrent as the Kinugawa River burst its banks. The rainstorms have reportedly triggered at least 60 landslides.
Rescue helicopters were seen hovering over swirling, muddy waters picking up people stranded on rooftops in Joso, north of Tokyo. At least 100 people have been rescued so far.
CCTV’s correspondent Terrence Terashima says at least one person has been confirmed dead in the flooding, with seven others declared missing. Authorities fear that given the ferocity of the flooding, the death toll is likely to rise.
On Friday, Japan’s weather agency issued a third emergency warning, as torrential rains associated with Tropical Storm Etau continued to move northward after dumping unprecedented rainfall on parts of northern and eastern Japan on Wednesday and Thursday.
Fukushima prefecture, home to the nuclear plant that was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has also issued weather warnings.
The downpour has reportedly overwhelmed the drainage pumps at the site, informed a spokesman for the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco). Huge volumes of water, used to cool the plant’s crippled reactors, are being stored at the site.