Water Outages Hit Japan In Aftermath Of Devastating Floods, Landslides

TOKYO, Japan

Hundreds of thousands of people in western Japan affected by devastating floods and landslides are contiuing to struggle this with water outages, while the death toll in the country’s worst rain-related disaster in decades climbed to at least 176, with more still missing.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe surveyed damage in some hardest-hit areas July 11, having canceled a scheduled trip to Europe and the Mideast to focus on disaster relief efforts.

At least 254,084 homes are still cut off from water supples in Hiroshima, Ehime and Okayama prefectures, those hardest hit by last week’s torrential rains, according to the country's welfare ministry.

About 1,100 homes in nine other prefectures, including Osaka, Yamaguchi and Tokushima, are also without water, and there are no estimated time scales for the supply being restored, the ministry said.

Many of those who managed to evacuate their homes have relied on water supplied by local municipalities and the Self-Defense Forces.

Fourteen cities and towns in Hiroshima Prefecture have been affected by cuts to the water supply following a number of mudslides that burst water pipes and caused power outages at distribution reservoirs.

In the city of Kure, where more than 10 people died, water was distributed at schools and other public facilities after a center managing the water supply was destroyed by mud and sand. The suspension has affected around 93,000 homes in the city.

In Ehime Prefecture, water supply facilities were destroyed in nine municipalities, affecting some hospitals, with local officials saying they are not yet able to fully assess the extent of the damage.

Some municipalities in Okayama, including Kurashiki and Takahashi, are still finding it difficult to supply drinkable water as purification plants have been submerged by the flooding.

Susumu Nakano, the head of the Research Center for Management of Disaster and Environment at Tokushima University, said water facilities are often located close to rivers and are vulnerable to floods.

“Compared to earthquakes, there are not enough measures,” he said. “It is necessary to make efforts on the assumption that there will be flooding.” (Japan Times)