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  4. 2019.1.4

Torrential rain, flooding kill hundreds, exposing gaps in disaster preparedness西日本豪雨、各地で甚大な被害

An aerial photo shows the Mabicho district in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, buried in water on July 8.© KYODO
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In one of Japan’s worst natural disasters since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, torrential rains drenched western parts of the country in July, leading to the deaths of at least 224 people and the loss of billions of yen in property damage.

The three worst-hit prefectures were Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime, with death tolls of 113, 61 and 26, respectively. Many of the deaths came from mudslides and landslides. A Hiroshima University survey found that slopes at over 7,000 locations in Hiroshima failed.

One reason for the high death toll was that few people followed special heavy rain warnings to evacuate. A survey of people living in the city of Hiroshima found that only 3.6 percent of 871 respondents evacuated their homes.

The government has set aside \105.8 billion to help pay for reconstruction efforts in the affected areas.

With Japan uniquely vulnerable to flooding in a warming world, this year’s disaster is a tragic reminder that disaster preparation is crucial.

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