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Japan Is in the Midst of Catastrophic Flooding

The floods are the worst seen in over 60 years

Tree-covered islands in Miyagi Prefecture, which has been affected by widespread flooding. (Michael S. Yamashita/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

In 2011, Japan’s coastline was laid waste by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Now, reports Reuters’ Issei Kato, it’s being threatened yet again — this time by catastrophic floods.

The flooding is the worst seen in over 60 years, writes Kato, and was precipitated by extreme rains. Tropical Storm Etau became a typhoon that unleashed its fury in the form of heavy rainfall that inundated rivers, cut off mountainous towns and killed at least three people, writes The Weather Channel’s Nick Wiltgen.

These are dramatic times in a region that’s already dealt with 2005’s deadly quake and tsunami, the 2011 tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown. Wiltgen reports that officials are deploying helicopters to rescue residents from roofs of inundated towns.

The area most affected seems to be Joso, a town about an hour north of Tokyo. The Mainichi reports that despite attempts to contain flood waters in nearby dams, the Kinugawa River broke through one of its levees, bursting its banks and causing torrents of water to rush through populated areas. As houses collapsed in what Wiltgen characterizes as “at least 99 landslides,” Japanese residents are doubtless wondering what else the island country’s wild weather has in store.

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