Japanese floods force 30,000 to flee

Floodwaters have swamped a city near Tokyo, washing away houses and forcing dozens of people to rooftops, from which they had to be rescued by helicopters.

More than 30,000 fled their homes and hundreds were stranded, as heavy rain hit Japan for a second consecutive day.

The Kinugawa River broke through a flood embankment, sending water gushing into the eastern half of Joso, a city of 60,000 people 50km north east of Tokyo.

Aerial videos showed a wide swath of cityscape under water, more than one storey deep in some places.

The rain followed tropical storm Etau, which caused flooding and landslides elsewhere, as it crossed central Japan.

Japanese broadcasters showed live video of rescuers being lowered from helicopters and clambering onto second-floor balconies to reach stranded residents.

A rescuer descended four times from a military helicopter to lift four people, one by one.

Nearby, a man clung to a pole as the waters rose. He was lifted up by a rescue worker, who first had to be lowered into the rushing water, so he could swim to the man.

Others waved from their roofs to get attention, as torrents of water washed away cars and knocked over buildings.

Photos from Japan’s Kyodo News service showed people waiting on top of cars and a delivery truck.

By evening, muddy water was still rising on a street heading to Joso City Hall, and police were blocking traffic in that direction.

Akira Motokawa, a city evacuation official, told public broadcaster, NHK, that rescuers had been unable to keep up with the volume of calls for help.

Nearly 180 people had requested help. Another 100 were reported trapped on the second floor of a flooded supermarket and 80 more in a nursing home.

An estimated 31,000 people in the affected, 14sq-mile area sheltered at schools, community centres and other safer areas.

The military delivered food, blankets and water to 780 people who were stranded, but who were not seeking rescue.


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