UPDATED: Storm-Fueled Downpours Lead to Landslides and Flooding North of Tokyo

Tropical-storm-etau-2015

Residents to the northeast of Tokyo have been doused with 18 inches of rain and the area has been issued a rare emergency weather warning by the Japanese government because of the ensuing landslides and flooding.

The state of emergency led to 100,000 people being ordered to evacuate, and nearly 800,000 others being advised to do the same, in the Tochigi and Ibaraki Prefectures north of Tokyo, according to Weather.com.

The severe weather has been attributed to Tropical Storm Etau, which moved north into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday. The storm was later downgraded to post tropical, but it has lingered in place, making it far more destructive than a typical storm of that size that would normally pass by more quickly. According to NHK, some storm-drenched locations received more than 500 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period, as much as twice the average amount that falls during the entire month of September.

The Japan Times later reported on the details of that destruction, including a landslide that smashed into a Tochigi home, leaving one man severely injured and a woman missing. Meanwhile, photos on Twitter showed the rotenburo (open air onsen) of the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel in Nikko being swept away by flood waters. Fuji News Network later confirmed these photographic reports.

The town of Joso in Ibaraki Prefecture has been flooded after levees by the Kinu River broke, and some residents were rescued by helicopter (video here). Areas around Fukushima Prefecture also experienced prolonged, heavy rainfall, and warnings are in place in those regions as well.

The Times article added that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office built a special task force to collect information on the storm this morning. Meanwhile Eriko Yamatani, the minister in charge of disaster measures, conferred with officials in the northern prefectures. The Prime Minister went on to tell reporters at a press conference: “The government will work as one to take all necessary measures for disaster relief activities, putting the top priority on securing safety for human lives.”

As of Friday, three deaths have been confirmed. According to CNN, in Miyagi Prefecture, one woman was found dead in her car. Meanwhile, in Tochigi Prefecture, one drowning victim has been confirmed, and a 63-year-old woman died in a landslide in Kanuma, Tochigi.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, flooding of the Shibuikawa River in Miyagi Prefecture on Friday morning has stranded some 1,200 residents.

—Kyle Mullin

Image: Flooded areas on the banks of the Kinu River, in the city of Joso, Ibaraki (NHK)

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